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UNIVERSITY OF TORONTO
THE ESTATE OF THE LATE
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FIELD AND FOREST.
Original SWate^otov growings aftet gjtatitv*,
By ISAAC SPRAGUE.
DESCRIPTIVE TEXT BY REV. A. B. HERVEY.
WITH EXTRACTS FROM
LONGFELLOW, LOWELL, BRYANT, EMERSON, AND OTHERS.
S. E. CASSINOr#32 HAWLEY STREET.
Estes & Laurtat, 301 Washington St.
BY S. E. CASSINO.
Boston Stereotype Foundry,
4 i' earl street.
Press op Stanley and Usher,
299 washington street.
PART FACING PAGE
I. Blood-Root u
II. The Pasture Thistle 21
III. The Partridge-Berry 33
IV. The Arethusa 43
V. The Pitcher-Plant 53
VI. The Galax-Leaved Shortia 65
VII. The Arrow-Head 75
VIII. The Pale Laurel 85
IX. The Meadow Beauty 95
X. The Bur-Marigold 107
XI. The Climbing Hemp-Weed 117
XII. The White Bay 127
XIII. The Cardinal-Flower 137
XIV. The Blue-Stemmed Golden-Rod . '. . . 149
I have seen
A curious child, who dwelt upon a tract
Of inland ground, applying to his ear
The convolutions of a smooth-lipped shell.
To which, in silence hushed, his very soul
Listened intensely; and his countenance soon
Brightened with joy; for from within were heard
Murmurings, whereby the monitor expressed
Mysterious union with its native sea.
Even such a shell the universe itself
Is to the ear of Faith; and there are times,
I doubt not, when to you it doth impart
Authentic tidings of invisible things;
Of ebb and flow, and ever-during power;
And central peace, subsisting at the heart
Of endless agitation. Here you stand,
Adore, and worship, when you know it not;
Pious beyond the intention of your thought;
Devout above the meaning of your will.
SANGUINARIA CANADENSIS L.
How fresh, O Lord, how sweet and clean
Are thy returns! even as the flowers in Spring;
To which, besides their own demean,
The late-past frosts tributes of pleasure bring.
Grief melts away
Like snow in May,
As if there were no such cold thing.
Who would have thought my shrivelled heart
Could have recovered greenness? It was gone
Quite under ground; as flowers depart
To see their mother-root, when they have blown;
Where they together,
All the hard weather,
Dead to the world, keep house unknown.
And now in age, I bud again,
After so many deaths I live and write;
I once more smell the clew and rain,
And relish versing: O my only light,
It cannot be
That I am he
On whom thy tempests fell all night.
12 FLOWERS OF THE FIELD AND FOREST.
Nature also is an artist and an author. She paints the
flowers before we copy them, and writes their simple story for
us to tell again. We have put upon the first page of our book
a charming flower, which she also displays upon the opening
leaves of the great floral book of the year. The story of its
modest life is not a long or a startling one, but perhaps it has
a cheery word of hope, which weary, wintry hearts, longing for
spring, may be glad to hear.
In the very early April days, which in our New England clime
are not over likely to be sunny days, before the leaves come out
at all upon the trees, when the downy catkins are first showing
the revival of life in the willows by the brook-side, before any
green thing yet gladdens the eye in field or forest, and the brown
dead grass and the brown dead leaves cover all the ground, then
it is that in the edges of the moist, rich woods the Sanguinaria^
puts up its slender stem, crowned with its circlet of petals daz-
zling white. It is a most beautiful flower, and, to my thoughts,
a beautiful emblem of nature's Easter, its pure whiteness having
something more than the earthly in its unstained loveliness. It
seems almost to have lived its earthly course, and passing through
the disrobing room of Death, which —
u has left on her
Only the beautiful."
comes now as the promise, radiant and heavenly, of that touch of
the Infinite Life by which all the dead are quickened.
It is not easy to say why we see in all these, beautiful forms
of nature these hidden meanings, and delight to trace in them
a likeness to our deeper thoughts and experiences. Are these
BLOOD-ROOT. 1 3
similitudes mere fanciful semblances, or. are they indications that
our clearer consciousness is but the sign of a universal life, which,
after its kind, is conscious in every thing ? Are the mental and
material worlds after all but separate rooms in the one house of
Life, divided by a thin, flexible partition, so that a moving breath
in the one palpitates through the other in correlations of conscious
thought? Who shall say? Still it remains true that we like
to see our own thoughts and feelings mirrored in the larger
doings and happenings of the Kosmos. We love that poet best
who best humanizes nature, and finds a present counterpart of
himself in the dumb life around him ; who, without seeming to
exceed probability, or distort natural functions, discovers emotions
in things which we have known in ourselves. We love his mes-
sage most who puts his ear to the natural universe as to
" The convolutions of a smooth-lipped shell,"
and then tells us of
"Authentic tidings of invisible things,
The central peace subsisting at the heart
Of endless agitation."
which it murmurs to his listening soul
So I am sure quaint George Herbert speaks to wide acceptance
when he finds in the coming forth of the flowers in early spring
from their abode "quite underground," where they have gone "to
see their mother-root ; " and
" Dead to the world, keep house unknown
All the hard weather,"
a deep illuminating correspondence with that most precious
14 FLOWERS OF THE FIELD AND FOREST.
spiritual experience, when the shrivelled heart, " on which tem-
pests fell all night," has " recovered greenness," and
u Smells the dew and rain,
And buds again/*
For nature teaches no sweeter lesson than when, with floral sym-
bols, it repeats from year to year, to a sinful and mortal world, the
pictured hope of man's moral and material rebuilding. And the
Sanguinaria, with its blood-red root under ground, and its pearly
purity up in the April air, may rightly speak a word of hope to
those who in obscurity and darkness have all their lives distilled
only bitter tears, like drops of blood,* from the griefs and defile-
ments of their lot. For with it what a beautiful white soul has
blossomed from a root-life so ensanguined and bitter ! How
greatly is it like those souls about the Throne " which have come
out of. great tribulation, and have washed their robes and made
them white in the blood of the Lamb."
The poet's quaint fancy of flowers, "keeping house" all the win-
ter long, underground, finds plenty of illustrations in the real life
of many plants, notably in this one. The housekeeping, however,
does not use up in the winter what has been garnered in the sum-
mer. It only just preserves it for the early needs of the plant at
the beginning of the next season, before it shall have time to draw
anew from nature's great supplies. Through the long summer its
broad, roundish leaves are opened and lifted up to the sun and rain,
and with patient industry gather out of the air and dew stores
of invisible food. These, mingling with the nutritious elements
which its fine rootlets have sucked from the moistened soil, have
been slowly elaborated and laid away in the red root-stalk, lying
BLOOD-ROOT. 1 5
like a hidden storehouse underground. So when the warm spring
sun melts the locks and chains of frosty winter, and sets free the
whole imprisoned kingdom of plants, none are sooner ready to
come forth and smile a welcome to the great Liberator than the
red-footed, white-breasted Sanguinaria.
The flower stays not long, and the plant, after producing the
early harvest of seeds, surrenders, as just now indicated, most of
the growing season to the prudent accumulation of sustenance for
next year's flowering and fruit bearing. So it makes to-day render
tribute to to-morrow, as to-day itself is in part the product of yes-
terday. Thus its little life links its generations together with
mutual helpfulness, and mingles the common and popular blessing
of receiving with the greater blessedness of giving.
Concerning the blood-red liquid which freely exudes when the
stem or. root-stalk is cut or broken, and which gives the popular
as well as the scientific name to Sanguinaria, Prof. Goodale
says : " In the case of nearly all plants from which a white
or colored juice exudes, there is a special system of microscopic
canals, consisting either of branched cells or confluent tubes,
termed the Latex system. Thus in the Euphorbias, Lettuce and
Poppy, the milky juice is contained in communicating Latex-tubes.
But in some other cases, for example blood-root, the colored juice
is held in receptacles of a different character. In blood-root these
special receptacles are roundish or more elongated, and possess
very thin walls. While some of these sacs or cells are separated
from each other, others are arranged in rows. This grouping
into linear series is well marked in the more superficial parts."
The colored juice of the Sanguinaria was used by the Indians
as a dye.
1 6 FLOWERS OF THE FIELD AND FOREST.
Having referred to this plant as our sweetest floral emblem of
nature's Easter, I cannot refrain from quoting a few stanzas from
Phoebe Cary's well known lines, " Rcsurgam," in which she for-
tifies her own heart, at the approach of death, by this hope which
nature in the early spring so brightly illuminates:
Nature's sepulchre is breaking,
And the earth, her gloom forsaking,
Into life and li^ht is waking.
Oh, the weakness and the madness
Of a heart that holdeth sadness
When all else is light and gladness !
Shall not He who life supplieth
To the dead seed, where it lieth,
Quicken also man, who dieth?
Rise, my soul, then, from dejection,
See in nature the reflection
Of the dear Lord's resurrection.
Let this promise leave thee never:
" If the might of death I sever,
Ye shall also live forever ! "
THE PASTURE THISTLE.
The Pasture Thistle.
CNICUS PUMILUS Torrey.
THE THISTLE FLOWER.
My homely flower, that blooms along
The dry and dusty ways,
I have a mind to make a song,
And make it in thy praise;
For thou art favored of my heart,
Humble and outcast as thou art.
Though never with the plants of grace
In garden borders set,
Full often have I seen thy face
With tender tear-drops wet,
And seen thy gray and ragged sleeves
All wringing with them morns and eves.
Albeit thou livest in a bush
Of such unsightly form,
Thou hast not any need to blush —
Thou hast thine own sweet charm;
And for that charm I love thee so,
And not for any outward show.
I need hardly make a point of formally introducing the Thistle
to my readers. It has a faculty of pointedly introducing itself, and,
22 FLOWERS OF THE FIELD AND FOREST.
notwithstanding the humane admiration of our poet for this brist-
ling denizen of the pastures,* most people do not care for a very
close or intimate acquaintance with it. I may say, however, that
among botanists it is spoken of as belonging to the large tribe of
composite flowers. The admirable picture by Mr. Sprague tells
more of it at a single glance than could be conveyed by pages
of description. It is in flower all summer, and may be found, in
the latitude of New England and Pennsylvania, as far West as
the Mississippi. Though so common, and so obnoxious as a
weed, that few ever take any interest in it, it is not to be denied
that, it possesses a certain kind of attractiveness. In the artist's
eye, its rich, red blossom, and its curiously cut and jagged leaves,
are not without their elements of beauty. It has been made to
serve ornamental if not useful ends, for it was early seized upon
by the architect and designer as the basis of much fine orna-
mentation both in colors and in carvings.
Prof. Hulme says: "The Thistle has been largely employed
in ornamental art, in some cases clearly for its own inherent
beauty; in others as clearly from its heraldic and historic asso-
ciations. A very beautiful example of it may be seen in a square
panel in the Cathedral of Bruges, and again in the moulding on
a tomb of Don Juan II., in that building; in numerous wooden
panels (Gothic carvings) in the South Kensington Museum; and
on the monument of Mary Queen of Scots, in Westminster
It is best known, perhaps, as the national emblem of Scot-
land, but how it came to be such, or what particular species
of it first furnished the sturdy Scotchmen with their symbol,
is much in dispute among the antiquarians and naturalists. In
THE PASTURE THISTLE.
any case it was not probably the one figured in our plate. Various
legends undertake to account for its becoming the national sym-
bol, and of course throw the jorigin of it far back into the past.
This is one story : " When the Danes invaded Scotland, it was
deemed unwarlike to attack an enemy in the darkness of the night
instead of a pitched battle by day ; but on one occasion the in-
vaders resolved to avail themselves of stratagem, and, in order
to prevent their tramp being heard, marched barefooted. They
had thus neared the Scottish camp unobserved, when a Dane
unluckily stepped upon a sharp thistle, and uttered a cry of pain,
which immediately aroused the Scotch, who discovered the stealthy
foe, and defeated them with great slaughter. The thistle was
immediately adopted as the emblem of Scotland." For as good
a reason Rome might have adopted the goose as its national
bird, for did not a flock of cackling geese, on a like occasion)
save Rome? There is, however, no authentic record of its ap-
pearance in Scottish history in this relation earlier than 1458,
when it is referred to in an inventory of the property of James
III., of Scotland, as " a covering of variand purpir tarter browdin
with thrissils and a unicorn," the unicorn being also an emblem
The Scottish knighthood, the Order of the Thistle, is of com-
paratively late origin. James I. of Great Britain, who was also
James VI. of Scotland, on his accession to the throne of the
United Kingdom, took as his badge a compound flower, half rose
and half thistle, and the stalk supporting this floral monstrosity
had on one side of it a rose leaf and on the other the leaf of a
If national emblems are emblematic, as I suppose, strictly
24 FLOWERS OF THE FIELD AND FOREST.
speaking they are not, I can scarcely see why the Thistle should
stand for the " Cannie Scot." There are, to be sure, points of
resemblance, but they are quite superficial. The national motto,
apropos of the emblematic Thistle, "Nemo me impinte lacessit, —
No one provokes me with impunity," might indeed hint at the
pugnacious quality of the Scotch, especially in the matter of
metaphysical theology ; and the sharp points with which the
Thistle always bristles may be no inapt symbol of the natural
acuteness of the Scotchman's mind, and the native keenness of
his wit. But underneath all, in him there is a rich store of
hearty, genial humanity and kindliness, which find no adequate
symbol in the burly thistle.
Like everything else associated with his native land, it was
dear to the heart of Burns, who meeting it in his farm work,
"The rough burr thistle spreading wide
Among the bearded bear,
I turned the weeder-clips aside
And spared the symbol dear."
The early bad reputation of the Thistle among English speak-
ing people, is obvious from its being made to figure so prominently
in the "primal curse," pronounced upon the ground when Adam
sinned in Eden, as related in our English Bible. " Cursed is the
ground for thy sake. Thorns also, and thistles shall it bring
forth to thee." It is not known what plants are here referred
to, but the use of this word shows the real opinion our translators
had of this well known English weed. It hasn't many friends,
that is certain, and for the best of all reasons. It is not friendly.
It has a sort of touch-me-not attitude toward all the world. It
THE PASTURE THISTLE. 25
has its virtues, no doubt, but they are not of the pleasing or
conciliatory kind. If people want to admire it for what it has of
worth or beauty, well and good, they may stand off and admire.
If they don't, it is all the same to the thistle. It is bound to
stand on its own feet, defend its own rights, and occupy its own
place, let the world wag a^ it may. There seems to be a certain
sturdiness of moral character about it which is not unlike what
we find in similar independent, thistly, strongly individualized,
and not very agreeable human mortals. They are here, and here
to stay, and to take care of their own, not without pugnacity,
giving and taking thrusts. The world may be pleased or dis-
pleased, it matters little to them ; and the rest of us console
ourselves by thinking about them, " Oh, well, it takes all sorts of
people to make a world."
While something may be said in a general way in behalf of
this friendless weed, I should not expect to make it a favorite
with the farmer. He is blinded by prejudice, a prejudice, how-
ever, not altogether without some good grounds ; for this plant
yields food neither to himself nor his beast, and it absorbs much
of the vital strength of the soil which ought to go to nourish
his grain or his grass. Besides, I have no doubt he carries the
memory of many sharp and painful thrusts which it has given
him when he has taken it up unawares with his sheaves of
wheat or oats.
But the most interesting thing about the Thistle is the in-
genious way by which it contrives to scatter its seed, — just as
though there wouldn't be thistles enough for all practical pur-
poses if the seeds were left to take their chances of planting by
wind and weather. Nature has contrived for every one of its
26 FLOWERS OF THE FIELD AND FOREST.
myriad seeds an airy little balloon, of the finest and lightest
down, and it goes sailing away upon the wings of the wind like
another Montgolfier, whose famous aeronautics, indeed, this flying
plant antedated many ages. Who ever saw a sunny summer
day in the country when there were not multitudes of these fairy
globes, each with an embryo plant in its breast, sailing lazily
through the sultry air! What images of lightness and grace are
these airy nothings from the thistle's white crown ! They will
sail on and on, till the rain beats the buoyancy out of their
wings, and then they will come down with the raindrop, and be
planted far away from their native fields.
I suppose most seeds are left to the ordinary chances of the
elements for dispersion and planting, but many of them are fur-
nished with special appliances for it. Some of these are purely
mechanical, the pod in which they grow being so contrived that
as it ripens it brings its sides into a state of tension, which
increases as the growth and ripening goes on, till at last it bursts
open with a sudden and violent spring which scatters the seeds
in every direction, sometimes many feet away.
Then, again, other seeds are provided with barbed points, or
with sharp hooks which readily seize upon any passing object,
as the wool and hair of animals, perhaps the feathers of birds,
certainly the clothing of men, and are thus carried long distances
from their native home. Others, like the seeds of the maple
and trumpet-flower, have their gossamer wings, by which they
" fly away to be at rest " in some distant, hospitable soil.
Many, like the thistle and dandelion, are furnished with buoy-
ant envelopes of feathery fibre, which make them the sport of
every breeze. This device, by which Nature disperses the seeds
THE PASTURE THISTLE. 27
of some of the humblest of its creatures, is of the greatest im-
portance to man in at least one case, for the downy fibre which
in the open boll covers the black seed of the cotton plant, clothes
also the whole civilized race of man, and is the foundation of
one of the chief and most astonishing industries of modern
The water-lily, which produces its seeds beneath the surface
of the water, has a curious contrivance for dispersing them. It
encloses them in a light, thin bag, which is filled with air, and
is impervious to water. This acts as a float or life-preserver to
the seed, which, directly it is released from the mother plant,
rises to the surface and floats away, " driven by the winds and
tossed," or carried by the currents of water. By and by the sack
bursts or decays, and the seed immediately sinks and is embedded
in the mud at bottom, and is ready to produce a new plant in
a new place. The plant world is full of these ingenious contriv-
ances. But it is time we permitted our poet to tell the reason
why she takes the thistle to her kindly regard.
Thou hast no lovers, and for that
I love thee all the more;
Only the wind and the rain to be
Thy friends, and keep thee company.
So, being left to take thine ease
Behind thy thorny wall,
Thy little head with vanities
Has not been turned at all,
And all field beauties give me grace
To praise thee to thy very face.
28 FLOWERS OF THE FIELD AND FOREST.
So thou shalt evermore belong
To me from this sweet hour,
And I will take thee for my song,
And take thee for my flower,
And by the great, and proud, and high,
Uncnvicd, we will live and die,
MITCHELLA REPENS L.
Spring, with that nameless pathos in the air
Which dwells with all things fair,
Spring, with her golden sun and silver' rain,
Is with us once again.
In the deep heart of every forest tree
The blood is all aglee,
And there's a look about the leafless bowers
As if they dreamed of flowers.
Yet still on every side we trace the hand
Of winter in the land,
Save where the maple reddens on the lawn
Flushed by the season's dawn.
Or where, like those strange semblances we find
That age to childhood bind,
The elm puts on, as if in Nature's scorn,
The brown of autumn corn.
As yet the turf is dark, although you know
That, not a span below,
A thousand germs are groping through the gloom
And soon will burst their tomb.
34 FLOWERS OF THE FIELD AND FOREST.
This is by no means a spring flower, for it opens its delicate
little twin blossoms of pink in the hot days of June and July.
But I suppose the plant is associated in the minds of most
lovers of nature with the memory of the very earliest sunny days
of the year, for amidst the universal brown of early spring, its
bright evergreen leaves, and its brilliant red berries, are almost
the only things which gladden the weary eyes with bits of pleas-
ing color. Here and there a little bank or tuft of moss, or a
frond of rock-fern, adds its greenness, and shares with the Par-
tridge-Berry the gratitude of eyes hungering for the tints of sum-
mer. Especially grateful to us is this humble plant, in the time
when its shining leaves and sparkling berries peep up from their
nest in the dull dead leaves, sometimes just from under the edge
of the retreating snow. But in the luxuriant life and color of mid-
summer it would scarcely be noticed at all, as it modestly puts up
its delicate pink flowers, in some dark nook, hidden away and
crowded out of sight by a mob of obstreperous weeds. As red as
the plump cheeks of this little berry commonly are, it has been
sometimes found as white as snowdrops. A young lady sent
some white ones, two or three years ago, from York, Pennsylvania,
to Dr. Gray, the first he had ever heard of, it seems.
In some parts of the country the aromatic Wintergreen, or
Checkerberry, is called the Partridge-Berry, Prof. Goodale states.
I am sure that in some parts of New York and Pennsylvania I
have heard our plant called the Checkerberry, and in those regions,
the latter name is not applied to the Wintergreen, as it is in New
England. The scientific name of the plant was given to it by the
great Linnaeus, in honor of Dr. John Mitchell of Virginia, who,
during the first half of the last century, was one of our best known
botanists, and a valued correspondent of the founder of our science.
He was a Fellow of the Royal Society, and is known in botanical
science as the author of several short treatises on botany, which
were issued in a collected form in London, in 1769. He certainly
is among the most fortunate of men to have his name and memory
embalmed in a plant at once so charming and so widely distributed
as is the Mitchella repens. There is but one other species be-
longing to that genus, and that is found in Japan. Dr. Gray has
shown, in a very interesting paper, that many of our North Amer-
ican forms are represented in the flora of that country. The
Mayflower, or trailing Arbutus, so widely and deservedly popular
in New England, is a case quite similar to that of the Mitchella.
There is but one other species of the Epigcza known, and that is
a native of Japan,
The most careless observer could scarcely fail to notice, that the
bright red berry is furnished with a double "blow end," as though
two flowers had assisted in its production. Such is the case. A
single ovary bears twin flowers, which, indeed, sometimes come to
be something more than "Siamese-twin" flowers, for they occa-
sionally coalesce and form a single flower with an eight-lobed
corolla. Commonly, however, they are quite separate, and fructify
the corresponding segments of the compound ovary on which they
grow. The flowers themselves have individual peculiarities. In
some the pistil is long and stands out beyond the mouth of the little
hairy tube of the corolla, while the stamens are short and are con-
cealed somewhere down in its obscure depths. Other flowers will
show an arrangement exactly the opposite of this, the pistil, with
its four-parted stigma, will be short and hidden away in the tube
while the' stamens will protrude. It is evident that flowers, built
36 FLOWERS OF THE FIELD AND FOREST.
on this plan, cannot conveniently fertilize themselves. The parts
involved in the act seem to be thus purposely arranged, so that
they cannot come in contact. It has been observed in other flowers
thus constructed, that they are very nicely arranged to utilize the
help of bees and other insects in cross-fertilization, for the pollen
from flowers with long stamens will be placed on the insect which
comes for their honey, in exactly the right position to be most
easily communicated to the stigma of a flower with a long pistil.
So with the flowers having short stamens, and those having short
If one looks closely he will see beneath the rows of roundish,
opposite, green leaves, just at the base of the leaf-stalk, a pair of
minute scales, or stipules. They seem to be of no use to the
plant, nor are they ornamental. But the trained botanist sees in
them great significance. They are the unmistakable signs that our
little creeping vine is the "long lost and far wandered scion of a
noble house." This humble denizen of our woods has aristocratic
connections, and is almost our only representative of a large and
influential family in the kingdom of plants, whose native home is
in a more genial clime than ours, — a family distinguished in some
of its members, by the most considerable and most honorable ser-
vices to mankind.
I need mention but two or three of these to show that. The
Coffee plant furnishes the material for a decoction which is the
most universal and most delicious drink (when rightly made and
rightly served) that art has yet educed from nature. In the bark
of the Cinchona tree, Peruvian Bark, is found one of the most
invaluable drugs employed in the art of healing, and one which,
perhaps, as a defence against the subtle poisons of malaria, has
saved more human lives than any other. In the pigment pro-
duced from the Madder plant, we have the basis and substance
of some of our most useful dyes. These, and several other useful
plants that might be named, are all first cousins to our bright
little friend of the early spring time.
New are the leaves on the oaken spray,
New the blades of the silky grass j
Flowers, that were buds but yesterday,
Peep from the ground where'er I pass.
These gay idlers, the butterflies,
Broke, to-day, from their winter shroud \
These light airs ; that winnow the skies,
Blow, just born ; from the soft white cloud.
Gushing fresh in the little streams,
What a prattle the waters make!
Even the sun, with his tender beams,
Seems as young as the flowers they wake.
Children are wading ; with cheerful cries,
In the shoals of the sparkling brook ;
Laughing maidens, with soft young eyes,
Walk or sit in the shady nook.
ARETHUSA BULBOSA L.
Is this a time to be cloudy and sad,
When our Mother Nature laughs around;
When even the deep blue heavens look glad,
And gladness breathes from the blossoming ground?
There are notes of joy from the hang-bird and wren,
And the gossip of swallows through all the sky;
The ground-squirrel gayly chirps by his den,
And the wilding bee hums merrily by.
The clouds are at play in the azure space,
And their shadows at play on the bright-green vale,
And here they stretch to the frolic chase,
And there they roll on the easy gale.
There's a dance of leaves in that aspen bower,
There's a titter of winds in that beechen tree,
There's a smile on the fruit, and a smile on the flower,
And a laugh from the brook that runs to the sea.
The last line of this song of gladness, brings us to the side
of the " laughing brook that runs to the sea " and brings us to its
floral guardian, the beautiful Arethusa. This interesting and bril-
44 FLOWERS OF THE FIELD AND FOREST.
liant summer annual has a habitat limited to the region of our
eastern border along the coast of New England and the middle
States to Virginia, and the northern parts of Wisconsin and beyond.
It is not a common plant anywhere, though I have found it by no
means rare in some of the marshy districts about Taunton. It
blossoms in May and June, and, as our artist makes clear to all,
it is a very beautiful flower. The singular form and position of
the petals, its brilliant color of pink and red, with the yellow fringe
that ornaments its pendent " labellum," all contribute to the in-
terest and charm of the flower.
It is one of the few representatives which we have in our native
flora of the very interesting Orchid family. They are all very
highly organized and specialized plants. In most cases they have
some ingenious mechanism for soliciting and securing the help of
insects in cross-pollenization. In describing the Moccasin Flower
and the Calopogon in Beautiful Wild Flowers, I had occasion to
refer to this interesting matter at some length. The Arethusa
secures this outside help in the distribution of its pollen in much
the same way as the Calopogon, the principal difference being that
the insect carries away the pollen masses upon his head in the case
of the Arethusa, while in the Calopogon they adhere to the under-
side of the thorax or abdomen.
If the reader will carefully notice the flowers which Mr.
Sprague has reproduced with such faithfulness, he will see that the
petal which overarches the yellow-headed << labellum ,, has a slight
knob or protuberance on its under side near the end. This is the
anther. It consists of a casque-shaped cup with four little masses
of powdery pollen packed loosely away in it. The cup lies down
upon its side in a little hollow or groove in the petal with its
THE ARETHUSA. 45
bottom turned toward the end of the petal and fastened to it by a
delicate hinge of vegetable tissue. This brings the open top of
the cup toward the inner part of the flower. The mouth of the
cup is closed up by a thin partition drawn across the little furrow
in which it lies. The other or inside of this partition is the stigma
of the flower.
It is not difficult to see that the two parts are so adjusted
to each other as to make it in the highest degree difficult, if not
altogether impossible, for the pollen unaided to come in contact
with the stigma. But with the aid of a bee in search of honey
it is very easily accomplished. The bee lights upon the downy
hanging platform of the "labellum," and proceeds to make his
way down the throat of the flower to the nectar. In doing so
he might run his head against the projecting anther cup, but of
course could not move it, for it is so hinged that it will turn
outward and not inward.
But on his way out the bee again knocks his head against
the little cup, and this time it responds to his lightest touch.
It immediately swings out and opens downward, and spills its
little bundles of pollen directly upon the top of the bee's head
or back, and they stick fast. The very next Arethusa he visits
and comes out of he will be sure to leave some of this pollen
upon the stigmatic surface just where it is needed to fructify the
flower. He will at the same time carry away more pollen from
this flower wherewith to pollenize the next one, and so on. The
service rendered by insects in cross-fertilizing plants, thus mak-
ing them more prolific and more vigorous, is coming to be one
of the most interesting and important fields for investigation in
the natural history of the vegetable kingdom. One sees, also,
46 FLOWERS OF THE FIELD AND FOREST.
how the insect tribes in doing this service to plants also benefit
themselves, for the number and vigor of nectar-producing flowers
will be the measure of their food supply for the next year.
Thus Nature weaves these two humble lives together in a web
of mutual dependence and service.
The Arethusa was named in honor of a nymph of Diana or
Artemis, as she is often called, and was represented in the Greek
mythology to be the presiding genius of springs and fountains.
She was the daughter of Nereus and Doris, and was changed
into a fountain by her mistress Diana to deliver her from the
persistent but unwelcome pursuit of her lover Alpheios, a river-
god, and a son of Okeanas. The fountain was at Syracuse, in
Sicily, and was famous for the abundance of its waters and the
number of its fishes, though now the water is brackish and sup-
ports no finny inhabitants. Virgil invokes the inspiration of
Arethusa to help him compose his tenth pastoral, addressed to
his friend Gallus.
The connection of our plant with wet " springy " places,
where it makes its home, suggested its name. Certainly, no one
who has seen and admired its rare charms in its native haunts,
can feel that it does discredit to the name or memory of the
fair goddess of fountains.
From her couch of snows
In the Acroceraunian mountains, —
From cloud and from crag,
With many a jag,
Shepherding her bright fountains,
She leaped down the rocks
With her rainbow locks
Streaming among the streams; —
Her steps paved with green
The downward ravine
Which slopes to the western gleams
And gliding and springing,
She went ever singing,
In murmurs as soft as sleep:
The earth seemed to love her,
And heaven smiled above her,
As she lingered toward the deep.
Into the sunshine,
Full of light,
Leaping and flashing
From morn till night!
Into the moonlight,
Whiter than snow,
Waving so flower-like
When the winds blow!
Ever in motion,
Blithesome and cheery,
Still climbing heavenward
Full of a nature
Nothing can tame;
Changed every moment,
Ever the same.
Let my heart be
Fresh, changeful, constant,
Upward, like thee.
James Russell LotvelL
SARRACENIA PURPUREA L.
Deep in the shady sadness of a vale
Far sunken from the healthy breath of morn,
Far from the fiery noon, and eve's one star,
Sat gray-haired Saturn, quiet as a stone,
Still as the silence round about his lair;
Forest on forest hung about his head
Like cloud on cloud. No stir of air was there,
Not so much life as on a summer's day
Robs not one light seed from the feathered grass,
But where the dead leaf fell, there did it rest.
A stream went voiceless by, still deadened more
By reason of his fallen divinity
Spreading a shade. The Naiad 'mid her reeds
Pressed her cold finger closer to her lips.
Along the margin-sand large footmarks went,
No further than to where his feet had strayed,
And slept there since. Upon the sodden ground
His old right hand lay nerveless, listless, dead,
Unsceptred; and his realmless eyes were closed;
While his bowed head seemed listening to the Earth,
His ancient mother, for some comfort yet.
This incomparable picture of a swampy vale deep in the
woods, is so exactly like the native home of our purple Pitcher-
54 FLOWERS OF THE FIELD AND FOREST.
Plant, that I could not resist the temptation to transfer it to our
pages. Mr. Meehan thinks Longfellow must have had in his
thought some image or memory of our southern Pitcher-Plant
when, in the song of the " Slave in the Dismal Swamp," he
made this life-like picture of southern vegetation, —
Where will-o'-the-wisps and glow-worms shine,
In bulrush and in brake;
Where waving mosses shroud the pine,
. And the cedar grows, and the poisonous vine
Is spotted like the snake;
Where hardly a human foot could pass,
Or a human heart would dare,
On the quaking turf of the green morass
He crouched in the rank and tangled grass
Like a wild beast in his lair.
Be this as it may, our plant is common all along our eastern
border from Newfoundland to Florida, growing in bogs and
swampy places, and flowering in the early summer. This plant
introduces us to one of the most interesting fields of biological
inquiry that has been opened in many a day. I refer to that
curious instance, which these and some other plants illustrate, in
which the vegetable kingdom seems to reverse the ordinary course
of nature and makes reprisal upon the animal kingdom for its
habitual foraging. In this as in many other departments of re-
search the interest has been greatly quickened, almost created,
throughout the scientific world, by the magic touch of that one
master spirit of the century, Charles Robert Darwin, — now alas,
no more of earth! His monograph on Insectivorous Plants
marks an era in this department of botanical science.
THE PITCHER-PLANT. 55
Insectivorous plants are a group or physiological assemblage of
plants which belong to a number of distinct natural orders. "They
agree in the extraordinary habit of adding to the ordinary supplies
of nitrogenous material afforded them in common with other plants
by the soil and atmosphere, by the capture and consumption of
insects and other small animals. The curious and varied mechan-
ical arrangements by which these supplies of animal food are
obtained, the way and degrees in which they are utilized, and the
remarkable chemical, biological and electrical phenomena of pre-
hension and utilization can only be fully understood by a separate
and somewhat detailed account of the leading orders and genera."
To give that would not come within the purpose of this paper,
and yet I think I may be able to embody enough of this strange
knowledge to give my readers some adequate idea of what happens
when a plant devours "insects and other small animals."
Take for example the common Sun-dew, Drosera rotimdifolia,
of our bogs and swamps. It has a circle of long-stemmed round
leaves which spring out horizontally from the bottom of the
flower stalk near the ground. These leaves, which are not usually
over half an inch diameter, are covered pretty thickly above with
flexible hairs, or tentacles, to the number of two hundred and fifty
or more, not longer than two-thirds of the diameter of the leaf.
Each of these tentacles bears at top a transparent drop of viscid
glistening fluid which looks very like a drop of dew in the early
sunshine. This gives the plant both its popular and its scientific
Insects seem to be attracted to the leaves of this plant, perhaps
by its glistening appearance, perhaps by its odor or color, or by all
combined. But if they come too near, or dare to light upon its
56 FLOWERS OF THE FIELD AND FOREST.
brilliant leaves, they will get anything but a friendly welcome. A
fly coming in contact with the viscid end of the tentacles finds itself
stuck fast. He cannot get away even if but two or three of these
silvery dewdrops touch him. But his struggles to do so awaken the
active interest of all the neighboring tentacles, which immediately
bend over toward him and fix upon him their adhesive tops. In
fact an impulse seems to be spreading over the whole surface of
the leaf, which sets all the parts into sympathetic activity. The
leaf itself soon hollows under the victim and rolls up its edges,
and thrusts down upon him more and more of its animated bead-
topped hairs. Slowly he is pressed down upon the surface of the
leaf, drenched in the abundant fluid which the leaf and its tentacles
secrete, and in a quarter of an hour or so he is dead.
But the leaf does not stop there. It holds its dead prey in its
close embrace till it has fully digested him, for its tentacles and
its superficial cells and glands constitute a true stomach, which
secretes digestive fluids and deals with animal substances in
exactly the same way that the animal stomach does. The nutri-
tious resultants of this digestive process are absorbed into the
tissues of the plant and help to nourish it. A chemical analysis of
the fluids produced in this vegetable stomach, and a careful obser-
vation of their action upon all nitrogenous substances which ordi-
narily constitute the food of animals, show that in almost all
respects it runs in an exact parallel with the functions of that
organ in the animal economy. It appears to be strictly car-
nivorous, as it will not digest vegetable or purely carboniferous
substances, such as gum-Arabic, sugar, starch, olive oil, etc. We
have then here the leaf of a plant possessing a true animal
THE PITCHER-PLANT. 57
The Venus Fly-trap, Dioncea mitscipala, a native of southeastern
North Carolina, is another carnivorous plant. At the extremity of
its obcordate leaves, are two lobes standing at something less
than a right angle to each other, hinged together at the back upon
the prolonged midrib of the leaf. The edges of these lobes are
armed with long spines which shut by and between each other
when the lobes close. Each of the lobes has three slender, sharp,
sensitive hairs placed triangularly some little distance apart upon
its inner surface. The slightest touch upon either of these hairs,
as the lighting upon it of the smallest insect, or brushing it with
their wings, or touching it with their legs or bodies as they crawl
over the surface, causes the lobes to shut together like a trap,
instantly imprisoning the unwary victim. If he be not too large
to pass between the closed teeth at the edge of the lobes he may
escape. Otherwise he is doomed, for the leaf immediately pours
out upon him from glands specially provided an abundance of
digestive fluid which soon kills and dissolves him.
As with the Sundew so with the Dioncea, a true digestive
process takes place perfectly analogous to that in the animal econ-
omy and the plant gets much nourishment from this source of
food supply. It has been observed that plants provided with this
special adaptation for securing food have smaller roots than other
kinds of plants not so furnished. There are several other genera
of plants that possess this extraordinary function, which we have
heretofore considered an exclusive attribute of animal life.
But in the Sarracenia we have the case of plants adapted to
capture and devour insects, but with no ability truly to digest them.
While they entrap and destroy great numbers of them and are
obviously contrived especially to do that, they make use of them
58 FLOWERS OP THE FIELD AND FOREST,
as nourishment in a way more analogous to the processes of plant
life than do the Droscra and Dioncra.
We are indebted to an admirable study of Sarraccnia vario-
laris, published in 1S74, by Dr. Mcllichamp of South Carolina,
for the best report yet made of the insect-capturing habit of
the Pitcher-Plant. The species above-named is larger than the
one so accurately represented in our plate. It has yellow flowers,
and the trumpet-shaped "pitcher" is from ten to twenty inches
long, and is covered at top with an overarching hood which quite
effectually excludes the rain. It grows common in the South and
is often transplanted into the house to serve as a domestic fly-trap.
It is furnished with the necessary appliances for capturing insects
in this way. Along the leaf border or wing of the pitcher quite
down to the ground are secreted at regular short intervals drops of
a sweet liquid which is very palatable to flies, ants, bugs, and other
insects. These make a baited path, or honey-trail straight up the
leaf to the open mouth of the. pitcher at top. Around the margin
of the mouth and well down the interior the sugary drops exude.
Of course the hungry insect led up the honeyed road of danger
presses on regardless of peril, over the margin, down into the open
mouth of the pitcher, mindful only of the abundant sweets. But he
soon comes to a place on the inner surface of the pitcher where he
cannot maintain his foothold. The surface for several inches is
there covered with a velvety nap of downward-pointing smooth
An ant, or any other wingless insect, directly he steps upon
this treacherous surface falls into the depths, where he finds the
narrowing space for several inches beset on all sides with long
sharp spines pointing inward and downward. His frantic efforts
THE PITCHER-PLANT. 59
to escape only serve therefore to push him further and further
toward the bottom. But before he reaches that he will find himself
plunged into a watery liquid which the leaf secretes, and which
acts upon him first as a powerful narcotic or anaesthetic, and when
he is once dead, as a dissolvent which will quickly change his
tissue into a "liquid fertilizer " wherewith to nourish the hungry
Winged insects in most cases fare but little better, for if
they fly directly upward when they lose their foothold, they
strike their heads against the overarching hood, and are perhaps
beaten back too far to recover themselves before they are en-
gulfed, or take a zigzag course downward to their destruction.
At all events, the long tube of this plant is often found a quarter
or half full of dead or decaying insects. That our common
Pitcher-Plant carries on the same business less perfectly, though
with no different purpose, may be seen by examining any well
developed leaf with' its tube lined with bristling downward-pointing
spines, and half filled with a watery liquid and drowned insects.
The flower of this plant is certainly a very singular one.
The pistil consists of an enormous style, which resembles a par-
asol or a toadstool more than anything else, with the stigma in
small patches under the tips of its lobes. The petals, notched
in like a fiddle, pass out between the re-entrant angles of the
The origin as well as the appropriateness of the English
popular name of this plant, the " Side-saddle Flower," appears to
be undiscoverable. The generic name was given in honor of Dr.
Sarrazin, of Quebec, who, many years ago, first sent specimens
of this plant, with some account of its habits, to European bot-
60 FLOWERS OF THE FIELD AND FOREST.
anists. This genus, which contains some six or eight exclusively
American species, is closely related to the Darlingtonia, a curi-
ously hooded Pitcher-Plant of the Sierra Nevada mountains, and
the still more singular Nepenthes, from the islands of the Indian
Ocean, which have tendril-like prolongations of the leaf, some-
times two feet or more long, becoming at their ends, perfectly
Altogether, when we get among these plants with such strange
forms and such wonderful habits and functions, we can begin to
understand something of what our Longfellow meant when he
wrote of that great naturalist, his well-beloved friend, Agassiz;
And Nature, the old nurse, took
The child upon her knee,
Saying: "Here is a story-book
Thy Father has written for thee."
w Come wander with me," she said,
"Into regions yet untrodj
And read what is still unread
In the manuscripts of God."
And he wandered away and away
With Nature, the dear old nurse,
Who sang to him, night and day,
The rhymes of the universe.
And whenever the way seemed long,
Or his heart began to fail,
She would sing a more wonderful song,
Or tell a more marvellous tale.
SHORT I A GLACIFOLIA Gray.
Spake full well, in language quaint and olden
One who dwelleth by the castled Rhine,
When he called the flowers, so blue and golden,
Stars, that in earth's firmament do shine.
Stars they are, wherein we read our history
As astrologers and seers of eld;
Yet not wrapped about with awful mystery,
Like the burning stars, which they beheld.
Wondrous truth, and manifold as wondrous,
God hath written in those stars above ;
But not less in the bright flowerets under us
Stands the revelation of his love.
Bright and glorious is that revelation,
Written all over this great world of ours:
Making evident our own creation,
In those stars of earth, these golden flowers.
There is an interesting, almost romantic, story connected with
the discovery and rediscovery of this beautiful plant. About a
hundred years ago the French government sent a noted botanist
of the time, Mons. Andrd Michaux, to this country to collect useful
66 FLOWERS OF Till*: F1HLD AND FOREST.
trees and shrubs for naturalization in France. He remained in
this country from 1785 to 1797, making the most of his excellent
opportunities for collecting and studying our flora. He estab-
lished and conducted in the interest of his mission two extensive
nurseries for arboriculture, one near New York and another near
Charleston, South Carolina. Just before his death in 1802, was
published one of the works for which he is principally known, a
"Treatise on the Oaks of North America." Paris, 1801.
The year following his death Mons. L. Richard, a celebrated
French botanist, prepared a Flora Borcali Americana, from
Michaux's extensive collections in this country. In this work is
mentioned, though not described, the plant now under notice. It
was collected somewhere in the mountains of North Carolina, and
was out of flower, the corolla and stamens having fallen.
" Early in the year 1839," writes -^ r - Gray, "I found and ex-
amined this specimen in Michaux's herbarium, and received from
the hand of Mons. Decaisne a drawing and some fragments of it.
In a paper treating of the botany of these mountains published in
January, 1842, I ventured to found a genus upon this plant, under
the above name, trusting that diligent search prosecuted by myself
and by all botanists visiting the region would duly bring it to light.
The protracted failure of these endeavors has thrown an air of
doubt over the minds of my associates in the search, as to the
actual existence of any such plant. In 1868 I had the pleasure
of announcing the discovery of this genus, not indeed where we
were looking for it, but where experience had led me to expect
that any or every peculiarly Atlantic States type might recur,
namely in Japan."
But the Japanese plant also was found without corolla or sta-
THE GALAX-LEA VED SHORTIA. 67
mens, and its exact floral form could only be conjectured from that
of some near relatives and from some rude Japanese pictures of it.
Yet from the confidence which Dr. Gray and other eminent bota-
nists felt with regard to its probable form and family relationship,
we are reminded of that proverbial reconstruction of a whole animal
from the fragments of a tooth which is accredited to Cuvier, and
the building up of the form of a fish from a single scale, attributed
to the skill of Agassiz.
Another ten years went by with no further light shed upon the
vexed question. But at last some additional facts transpired, and
in December, 1878, Dr. Gray could write, " Happily I can give the
character of the plant from an actual blossom. For I have now
received, at first indirectly from Mr. J. W. Congdon, and at length
directly from Mr. M. E. Hyams of Statesville, North Carolina, a
flowering specimen of the long sought Shortia glacifolia, collected
on a hill-side in McDowell county, North Carolina, in the district
I had indicated as the most probable locality, namely, east of the
Black Mountains. It was collected in May, 1877, but as its re-
markable interest was unknown it has only now been communi-
cated to me." It had been rediscovered after almost a century, and
after nearly forty years' search.
In 1879 ^ e locality was visited by Dr. Gray and other
botanists, one of whom thus speaks of the excursion: "Being now
in McDowell county, the Shortia locality was visited under the
guidance of Mr. George M. Hyams, the actual discoverer. In
the secluded and well protected station, well overshadowed by
Rhododendrons and Magnolias, was seen the little colony of the
plant so long sought and by many so long doubted. The space
over which the plant extended was perhaps ten feet by thirty, and
68 FLOWERS OF THE FIELD AND FOREST.
in all there may have been from fifty to one hundred plants. As
the plant multiplies by stolons it is remarkable that its area should
be thus restricted. And since in the struggle for life, of two allied
plants the weakest must go, Dr. Gray has suggested the proba-
bility that its stronger cousin the Galax had crowded out the
Shortia. And here, indeed, in what may be the last foothold of
the rarity, Galax appeared to be actually doing so. Yet the plants,
though comparatively few, were vigorous and healthy. In June,
the fruit of this vernal plant had mainly gone by, but Dr. Gray
secured a capsule or two with some seeds."
This rare and charming plant was named for Prof. Short, a noted
Kentucky botanist who died in 1863. I did not see how I could
do this floral rarity a greater honor than to frame its interesting
story with the shining lines of our lamented poet, which now for
near half a century have gone up and down the earth like a
deathless strain of sweet music, awakening fine echoes in every
heart that loves the flowers.
Everywhere about us are they glowing,
Some like stars to tell us spring is born ;
Others, their blue eyes with tears o'erflowing,
Stand like Ruth amid the golden corn ;
Not alone in meadows and green alleys,
On the mountain top, and by the brink
Of sequestered pools in woodland valleys,
Where the slaves of nature stoop to drink ;
In all places, then, and in all seasons,
Flowers expand their light and soul-like wings,
Teaching us, by most persuasive reasons,
How akin they are to human things.
THE GALAX-LEA VED SHORTIA. 69
And with childlike, credulous affection
We behold their tender buds expand ;
Emblems of our own great resurrection,
Emblems of the bright and better land.
SAGITTARIA VARIABILIS Engelnu
Homeward now went Hiawatha;
Only once his pace he slackened,
Only once he paused or halted,
Paused to purchase heads of arrows
Of the ancient Arrow-maker,
In the land of the Dacotahs,
Where the Falls of Minnehaha
Flash and gleam among the oak-trees,
Laugh and leap into the valley.
There the ancient Arrow-maker
Made his arrow-heads of sandstone,
Arrow-heads of chalcedony,
Arrow-heads of flint and jasper,
Smoothed and sharpened at the edges,
Hard and polished, keen and costly.
With him dwelt his dark-eyecl daughter,
Wayward as the Minnehaha,
Feet as rapid as the river,
Tresses flowing like the water,
And as musical a laughter;
And he named her from the river,
From the waterfall he named her
Minnehaha — Lau^hin^ Water.
76 FLOWERS OV THE FIELD AND FOREST.
Was it then for heads of arrows,
Arrow-heads of chalcedony
Arrow-heads of flint and jasper,
That my Hiawatha halted
In the land of the Dacotahs?
What Hiawatha certainly was not looking after "in the land of
the Dacotahs," arrow-heads, we shall most certainly see, in this
excellent portrait of the Sagittaria. If we may judge by both
the scientific and popular name of the plant, that is what the ob-
server has most distinctly seen when he has met it in nature.
The elegant outline and curious veining of the leaf will attract
our attention and admiration more than the pure white flower.
The pronounced significance of the leaf, both in the picture and in
the plant, leads me on to say something about the leaves of plants.
I suppose many readers are accustomed to think that the leaves
of plants are of small account. They perhaps recall how in ancient
times a certain fig-tree came under severe reproach because it bore
"nothing but leaves." Then, too, "when the summer is past and
the harvest is ended," how the dead leaves cumber the ground, are
trodden underfoot of men, and become the sport of wild autumn
winds! their greenness is faded, their beauty is gone, and none so
poor as to do them reverence. Thus are we in greater things quite
too prone to forget past benefits when the benefactor can no longer
add new gifts to his old ones.
As much as we make the fallen and faded leaves the emblem of
our frailty and nothingness, there are few, I imagine, who do not
look with longing for the bare trees to put on their fresh new
foliage in the spring-time. And it must be a dull soul indeed
THE ARROW-HEAD. 77
which can behold unmoved the gorgeous-colored drapery which
Autumn throws so lavishly over our American forests.
To the life of the plant the leaves are of the first importance,
quite as necessary as its roots. The roots suck up great quantities
of water from the soil which holds in solution various chemical ele-
ments necessary for the life and upbuilding of the plant. Most of
these must be brought in contact with the air and other chemical
agents, before they can be assimilated into the woody and other
tissues of the plant. The leaves are the principal organs for ac-
complishing this. They serve indeed in the double function of
organs of respiration and digestion.
They are made up of layers of minute cells containing a green
substance called chlorophyl, together with bundles of woody tissue
which constitute the frame-work or skeleton. Upon the underside
of most leaves the microscope reveals thousands of little pores or
mouths opening through the cuticle into the interior of the leaf.
These openings are for breathing. The air goes freely in through
these, and circulates among the interstices of the cells. The car-
bonic acid of the air is decomposed by contact with the green
contents of the cells, the carbon being kept and wrought up into
vegetable fibre and the oxygen partly breathed out again, and partly
used up in making other chemical compounds with the fluids that
have come up from the roots. These fluids then flow back into the
body of the plant and enter into various vegetable substances and
tissues. So we see that the leaf serves the plant in the double
capacity of lungs and stomach.
The different forms of leaves are almost endless, varying from
the simple needle of the pine to the elaborate compound leaf of the
horse-chestnut, locust, or fern. Almost every conceivable shape
78 FLOWERS OP THE FIELD AND FOREST,
that can be bounded with curves and angles is seen in the foliage
of plants. I often wonder why people who show such industry
and perseverance in collecting and preserving business-cards,
postage-stamps, and other artificial productions do not make col-
lections of the leaves of plants. I am sure they would furnish a
more pleasing variety and a vastly greater originality of design
than do the favorite objects. What an excellent opportunity,
too, would such a collection furnish for the study of similar but
unlike forms, and of the variations, little and great, regular and
irregular, which nature is so fond of playing upon her primary
Then, too, the venation of the leaves would open a wide field
for study and comparison. Indeed, in this we have a fundamental
characteristic of the vegetable kingdom. All plants with what is
called " parallel-veined " leaves, such as the present one, the lilies,
the grasses, Indian corn, etc., are monocotyledonous, that is, they
spring up from the seed with one primary leaf. But all leaves with
netted veins like those of the maple, or oak, or bean, or pumpkin,
belong to dicotyledonous plants, or plants with two primary or seed
leaves. These are the two great divisions of the plant kingdom.
This would be of no great moment if the one leaf or the two
leaves of its initial life were all. But it is not. These are only the
outward signs of great and important differences in the methods
of growth, structure, habits, and life-history of the plants. The
venation determines the form and size of the leaf. It is what the
bones are to the animal, its skeleton.
Naturalists undertake to account for many simple things in
nature on the grounds of utility. They tell us that the tawny skin
of the lion, the spots of the leopard, and the stripes of the tiger
THE ARROW-HEAD. 79
help to conceal them from their prey in the various situations
where they live and hunt, and so in " the survival of the fittest "
these advantages have been developed. I sometimes wonder if it
ever occurred to any of them to inquire what, on this or any other
grounds, is the reason for the infinite variety in the form, size,
appearance and structure of the leaves of plants. Has it come
about from some early advantage which attended a given form in
a given situation. Or has it been developed as the necessary result
of some corresponding peculiarity in the structure of the plant?
Or is it a caprice, or blind force? Or shall we say that the Mind
in nature is artistic and demands beauty as well as use? The
aspen leaf trembles with the greatest agitation when touched with
the gentlest zephyr's breath. But there is a physical, not a senti-
mental or aesthetic, cause for that. The leaf-stalk is flattened
thin in a direction perpendicular to the plane of the leaf, so that
the slightest movement of the air will set it into these unsteady
oscillations. Do all the facts of nature have thus only a phys-
ical cause back of them? They probably have that. But that
there is nothing beyond the physical reason I am not prepared to
The better demonstration of the presence of Mind in nature
which is found in a study of the position of the leaves upon
the plants must be deferred to another occasion.
The Sagittaria grows with its feet in the " still waters " by the
edges of pools and sluggish streams, a near friend and neighbor of
the water-lily. It blooms all summer, and is very common. Some-
how this interesting plant is associated in my memory with such
summer scenes and such a sunny atmosphere as the poet has
painted in these exquisite lines.
SO FLOWERS OF THE FIELD AND FOREST.
I hear the wind among the trees
Playing celestial symphonies;
I see the branches downward bent,
Like keys of some great instrument.
And over me unrolls on high
The splendid scenery of the sky,
Where through a sapphire sea the sun
Sails like a golden galleon,
Towards yonder cloudland in the West,
Towards yonder Islands of the Blest,
Whose steep sierra far uplifts
Its craggy summits white with drifts.
THE PALE LAUREL.
The Pale Laurel.
KALMIA GLAUCA Ait.
Now swells the forest, calm and wide,
In rippling waves of deepest green,
And all the rugged mountain side
Through billowy curves is seen;
The roadsides meet in ample shade,
With showers of light and golden glooms,
And bubbling up the rocky ways
The clustered Laurel blooms.
Each chalice holds the infinite air,
Each rounded cluster grows a sphere;
A twilight pale she grants us there,
A rosier sunrise here;
She broods above the happy' earth,
She dwells upon the enchanted days, —
A thousand voices hail her birth
In chants of love and praise !
Elaine Goo dale.
There are three species of Laurel common in the United States,
the most showy being the Mountain Laurel, a conspicuous upland
shrub, growing from four to twenty feet high, and crowned in mid-
summer with splendid corymbs of rose-colored blossoms. From
86 FLOWERS OF THE FIELD AND FOREST.
this is easily distinguished the Dwarf Laurel of the lower hills and
plains, by its smaller plant and flower, and by the fact that its blos-
soms are produced below the ends of the branches. Our Pale
Laurel grows in peat-bogs and other swampy places, and differs
from both the others by flowering in the spring, and by having nar-
row leaves which are folded back along the edges and covered
on the under side with a white bloom or dust, whence the name,
Pale Laurel. The flower of the Laurel is unique, the corolla
not imperfectly resembling a saucer in shape.
Kalmia is an American genus, though the Heath family, to
which it belongs, is famous in the Old World, especially in the Brit-
ish Isles, where the Heather, the favorite of the poets, often forms
no inconsiderable element in the beauty of otherwise barren moor-
lands. Its nearest relatives here are the Azalia, Rhodora, Blue-
berry, Cranberry, Huckleberry, etc., and some other like shrubs;
though it by no means bears so good a reputation as these last-
named useful plants. It has the name of being decidedly poison-
ous, and the Dwarf Laurel has a popular title, the Lambkill or
Sheep-Laurel, which indicates this. How well it deserves its bad
fame I know not.
From time out of mind the poets have spoken of the Laurel as
the particular plant whose leaves make the victors wreath.
"The Laurel, meed of mighty conquerors,
And poets sage."
But the Laurel of our hillsides and plains was never used to
crown poets or conquerors in ancient Greece and Rome. The plant
whose leaves were plaited into coronal wreaths, is the Sweet Bay,
or Noble Laurel, a tree-like shrub of Southern Europe.
The name is from the Celtic laur, green, and refers to its
THE PALE LAUREL. 87
evergreen foliage. The American Laurel gets its generic name
Kalmia from Linnaeus in honor of a friend and pupil, a Swedish
botanist by the name of Peter Kalm, who travelled extensively in
this country, in the middle of the last century, and sent specimens
of the plant to him.
"Kalm/' says Prof. Meehan, "was no common man. He was
born in Finland in 1715, and was destined for the church; but after
attending a course of lectures by Linnaeus, he determined to devote
his whole life to the study of natural history. He was subse-
quently elected Professor of Economy in the University of Abo,
which, until its destruction by fire, and removal to Helsingfors in
1827, was one of the leading centres of learning in the north of
Europe. The Royal Swedish Academy desired to send some one
to explore the northern parts of the American continent, believing
from the similarity of the climate that much good would result to
Swedish Agriculture, and the kindred arts and sciences; and on the
recommendation of Linnaeus, Prof. Kalm was selected and a practi-
cal gardener detailed to accompany him. He reached Philadelphia
in September, 1748. He went in 1749 through New Jersey, and
along the Hudson to Albany, thence across Lakes George and
Champlain to Canada. Returning again to winter in Philadel-
phia, the next year he explored western Pennsylvania, the Blue
Mountains, and the coast of New Jersey; and went again through
New York to Niagara Falls, returning to Philadelphia in October."
All this was no small undertaking in a country then almost entirely
an unbroken and trackless wilderness; and Kalm had many peril-
Though the genus is dedicated to Kalm it was known before
his day, for we are assured by Prof. Meehan, Banister, an early
88 FLOWERS OF THE FIELD AND FOREST.
Virginia botanist, had made Ray, the celebrated English natu-
ralist, acquainted with it. The plant was sent in a living state by
Bartram to Collinson in England, in 1730. So I suppose by right
this beautiful genus of American plants should have commemorated
the name of one or the other of these early and enthusiastic Amer-
ican botanists rather than that of the foreign explorer from the far
away shores of the Baltic. But no doubt the modest Quaker nat-
uralist was quite satisfied that his friend and correspondent from
over the seas should be associated with one of our most inter-
If one examines a newly-opened flower he will find that around
the edge of the bottom of the saucer-shaped part of the corolla
there are ten little pockets, and that into each one of these is thrust
an anther, the filament arching over from it and running down into
the tube of the corolla, by the side of the pistil, which runs up
rather high and stiff in the centre. Now it is found that the fila-
ments of the stamens are elastic, and that if by a little quick blow
upon the corolla, or by pushing the edge of it out, the anther in the
pocket is liberated, it will fly up with a quick motion. It is also
found that the pollen is held in two little sacs which open by
small holes at the top, and therefore that the whole stamen is not
unlike a piece of whale-bone with two quills tied to the end, filled
with fine shot. If the whale-bone is bent and then the end sud-
denly released, it will spring forward and the shot will be pro-
jected some distance. So Dr. Gray says, the stamen is a contriv-
ance for discharging pollen at some object. "If the stigma around
which the stamens are marshalled, be that object, the target is a
small one; yet some one or more of the ten shot might hit the
mark. But the discharges can hardly ever take place at all with-
THE PALE LAUREL. 89
out the aid of an insect. Bees are the insects thus far observed to
frequent these flowers ; and it is interesting to watch the operations
of a humble-bee upon them. The bee, remaining on the wing,
circles for a moment over each flower, thrusting its proboscis all
round the ovary at the bottom; in doing this it jostles and lets off
the springs, and receives upon the under side of its body and its
legs successive charges of pollen. Flying to another blossom, it
brings its yellow-dusted body against the stigma, and commonly
revolving on it as on a pivot, while it sucks the nectar in the
bottom of the flower-cups, liberates the ten bowed stamens, and
receives fresh charges of pollen from that flower when fertilizing it
with the pollen of the preceding one. This account is founded on
the observations of Prof. Beal of Michigan, who also states that
when a cluster of blossoms is covered with fine gauze, no stamen
gets liberated of itself, while fit for action, and no seed sets." So
the Laurel feeds the bee, and the bee in turn pollenizes the
Laurel and makes it fruitful. The plentiful flowers of the Pale
Laurel will help to make and adorn such a scene in nature as
this which the poet paints, every word a pigment.
The sun of May was bright in middle heaven,
And steeped the sprouting forests, the green hills,
And emerald wheat-fields, in his yellow light.
Upon the apple-tree, where rosy buds
Stood clustered, ready to burst forth in bloom,
The robin warbled forth his full clear note
For hours, and wearied not. Within the woods,
Whose young and half transparent leaves scarce cast
A shade, gay circles of anemones
Danced on their stalks; the shad-bush, white with flowers,
Brightened the glens; the new-leaved butternut
90 FLOWERS OF THE FIELD AND FOREST.
And quivering poplar to the roving breeze
Gave a balsamic fragrance. In the fields
I saw the pulses of the gentle wind
On the young grass. My heart was touched with joy
At so much beauty, flushing every hour
Into a fuller beauty.
THE MEADOW BEAUTY.
The Meadow Beauty.
RHEXIA VIRGINICA L.
A thing of beauty is a joy forever :
Its loveliness increases; it will never
Pass into nothingness; but will keep
A bower quiet for us, and a sleep
Full of sweet dreams, and health, and quiet breathing.
Therefore, on every morrow are we wreathing
A flowery band to bind us to the earth,
Spite of despondence, of the inhuman dearth
Of noble natures, of the gloomy days,
Of all the unhealthy and o'er-darkened ways
Made for our searching: yes, in spite of all,
Some shape of beauty moves above the pall
From our dark spirits. Such the sun, the moon,
Trees old and young, sprouting a shady boon
For simple sheep; and such are daffodils
With the green world they live in; the clear rills
That for themselves a cooling covert make
'Gainst the hot season; the mid-forest brake,
Rich with a sprinkling of fair musk-rose blooms:
And such, too, is the grandeur of the dooms
We have imagined for the mighty dead;
All lovely tales that we have heard or read:
An endless fountain of immortal drink,
Pouring into us from the heavens' brink.
96 FLOWERS OF THE FIELD AND FOREST.
Nobody seems to know why so beautiful a flower has so
barbarous a name. Though some, curious in these things, have
traced the name all the way back to Pliny, who knew a plant of
that name, they are still driven to the conclusion so sententiously
expressed by Dr. Gray, that " Rhexia has been applied to this
genus without obvious reason." It is thought to have some
value as a " vulnerary," or, in other words, to be useful in the
cure of wounds. Whatever may be said about its scientific,
nobody will call in question the peculiar fitness of its popular
name. It surely is "a thing of beauty," and so, by the poets
logic, " a joy forever."
It affects swamps and damp meadows as its favorite haunts,
and has a pretty wide distribution throughout the eastern United
States. A singular fact about it is that it is the only represen-
tative in our northern regions of an enormously large order of
plants native in tropical America. The order contains a thousand
species or more ; and out of them all, only this solitary one has
had the courage to emigrate north or undertake to live beyond
the thirtieth parallel.
A striking peculiarity of the order is the strongly ribbed
leaves, the ribs varying from three, in the Rhexia, to as many
as nine in other genera. Another noticeable peculiarity of this
order is the long curved anther which is attached to the filament
at the middle. It usually has also an additional process like a
spur appearing near the point of attachment, as may be seen in
this species. Prof. Goodale says, "the pollen consists of ex-
tremely minute grains which escape through a pore at the apex
of the tapering anther." I have recently seen the statement
made by some observer, that the larger end of the anther is a
THE MEADOW BEAUTY. 97
kind of inflated air sac, with thin walls, which when pressed upon
or struck, as when an insect lights upon it or touches it with his
rapidly moving wings, it acts like a bellows and blows little
puffs or jets of pollen dust out of the small pore at the end.
Thus the stigma of the flower or the insect himself gets abun-
dantly besprinkled with the fertilizing powder, which we can easily
see he might convey to other Rhexia blooms.
We can scarcely look upon so beautiful a wild-flower as this
without asking ourselves how came these colors and these strange
forms of beauty? Are they for themselves alone? Or are they
to please the aesthetic taste of the beholder, for
" Since eyes were made for seeing
Beauty is its own excuse for being."
Still, it must be remembered if we think we will make that
answer, that, —
"Full many a flower is born to blush unseen
And waste its sweetness on the desert air."
And, ages and ages after the flowers began to bloom, there was
upon the earth no beauty-drinking eye to quaff ethereal sweetness
from their tinted petals. Did they serve no good end in all those
The naturalist, who thinks he must find a reason for everything
he sees in nature, has undertaken to show how plants came to
have flowers at all ; that is, of course, petals, or colored sepals, the
showy parts of the flower, for all kinds of plants except the very
lowest have the essential parts of a flower, the staminate and pis-
tilate elements and mechanism. To state the naturalist's conclu-
sion broadly I should say, the floral envelope has been evolved,
gS FLOWERS OF THE FIELD AND FOREST.
by means of insects, and for the purpose of further securing
their help in the act of pollenization. That insects have some-
thing important to do with the showy dress of the flower may
be inferred on general grounds from the fact that such plants
as depend upon the wind to carry their pollen from anther to
stigma, like the pines and other cone-bearing trees, the grasses,
and notably our Indian corn, have no colored flower at all ;
while the plants that manifestly seek, or at all events are ben-
efited by, the help of insects in pollenization are furnished by
nature with floral appendages more or less showy and attractive.
I do not want to be understood to say that the insect comes
to the flower because he admires the brilliant colors of its petals,
but because he finds a toothsome drop of nectar in its cup or in
its tender surface-cells. The color of the flower is but a sign to
advertise him where a good dinner may be had for the taking.
It may be assumed that even in apetalous flowers he has al-
ready got a taste of natures sweets. Then any change, however
slight, of stamens into petaloid shapes, with ever so little addition
of color, would be an advantage in the struggle for existence, to
any flower possessing it, an advantage likely to be transmitted
and to be improved upon as the generations went by.
At first, the flowers would be yellow, the petals being only
slightly modified stamens, which are usually of that color. A still
further development would produce white, red or pink, and last of
all, purple, blue, and violet flowers. We infer that this was the
order of the evolution of color in flowers, for two reasons : The
first is, because we find a correlation between the flowers of certain
colors, and insects of certain degrees of development in respect to
their honey-gathering function. Mr. Grant Allen, an English
THE MEADOW BEAUTY. 99
writer, says, "Thus, to take a few examples out of hundreds that
might be cited, the flowers which lay themselves out for fertiliz-
ation by miscellaneous small flies, are almost always white ; those
which depend upon the beetles are generally yellow ; while those
which bid for the favor of bees and butterflies are usually red,
purple, lilac or blue. Down to the minutest distinctions between
species, this correlation of flowers to the tastes of their particular
guests seems to hold good. Herman Miiller notes that the com-
mon galium of our heaths and hedges is white, and is visited by
small flies, while its near relative, the lady's bedstraw, is yellow,
and owes its fertilization to little beetles. Fritz Miiller noticed a
lantana in South America, which changes color as its flowering
advances; and he observed that each kind of butterfly which
visited it, stuck rigidly to its own favorite color, waiting to pay its
addresses until that color appeared. "
We thus see how the special tastes of insects may have become
the selective agency for developing white, pink, red, purple and
blue petals, from the original yellow ones. But, before they could
exercise such a selective action, the petals must themselves have
shown some tendency to vary in certain fixed directions. An
investigator, who has given much study to the coloring matter of
plants and its chemical nature and action, gives us a point here,
which will, perhaps, solve this part of our problem. He assures
us that the pigments for all of these colors are laid up in all plants,
and only need to be slightly modified in chemical constitution, in
order to make them into the blues, pinks, and purples, with which
we are familiar.
Another reason for supposing that the evolution of color in
flowers has been along the line indicated above, is, that we see
IOO FLOWERS OF THE FIELD AND FOREST.
many flowers follow that track in their individual development
A common English forget-me-not is pale yellow when it first
opens, then changes to pink, and ends by being blue. A wall-flower
is first whitish, then yellow, and finally red or blue. An evening
primrose has white flowers at first, but at a later period of develop-
ment, red ones. Cobcua scandens, which has been flowering lux-
uriantly and blossoming perfectly in my study all winter, has
constantly shown this kind of evolution of color. It is first green,
then lightens much into a very pale-green, or white, and then
begins to develop toward purple, passing in some cases as I
noticed, through a pronounced pink. Its final color is a strong
purple. The garden convolvulus opens, a blushing white, and
passes into a full purple. When changes in the color of
flowers take place during the process of growth, they are, so
far as has been observed, all in this, and never in the opposite
There can scarcely be good reason to question, I suppose, that
the evolution of flowers and of honey-eating insects has gone on
side by side, each helping the other. In given cases, the color and
form of the floral envelope, the nature of the honey sack, together
with the position of the stamens and pistil, are all correlated with
the specialized organs and particular habits of the insect tribe
whose help is depended upon in the act of pollenization. Owing
something, then, to the agency of insects for the possession of all
the exquisite beauty and sweetness of flowers, I can make no
more appropriate ending for this paper, than by quoting a few lines
from Emerson's "Humble-bee/'
Hot mid-summer's petted crone,
Sweet to rac thy drowsy tone,
THE MEADOW BEAUTY. IOI
Tells of countless sunny hours,
Long days, and solid banks of flowers.
Aught unsavory or unclean
Hath my insect never seen;
But violets and bilberry bells,
Maple-sap and daffodels,
Grass with green flag half-mast high,
Succory to match the sky,
Columbine with horn of honey,
Scented fern and agrimony,
Clover, catch-fly, adder's-tongue,
And brier roses dwelt among;
All beside was unknown waste,
All was picture as he passed.
Wiser far than human seer,
Seeing only what is fair,
Sipping only what is sweet.
Thou dost mock at fate and care
Leave the chaff and take the wheat.
B I DENS CHRYSANTHEMOIDES Micliaux.
The quiet August noon has come;
A slumbrous silence fills the sky,
The fields are still, the woods are dumb,
In glassy sleep the waters lie.
And mark yon soft white clouds that rest
Above our vale, a moveless throng;
The cattle on the mountain's breast
Enjoy the grateful shadow long.
Oh, how unlike the merry hours,
In early June, when earth laughs out,
When the fresh winds make love to flowers
And woodlands sing, and waters shout.
But now a joy too deep for sound,
A peace no other season knows,
Hushes the heavens and wraps the ground,
The blessing of supreme repose.
Beneath the open sky abroad,
Among the plants and breathing things,
The sinless, peaceful works of God,
I'll share the calm the season brings.
I08 FLOWERS OF THE FIELD AND FOREST.
It is in the midst of a scene like this, in the full-orbed sum-
mer, in the peaceful quiet of a season which has got through the
hurry and bustle of life, has finished mainly the intense business
of growth, the making of flowers and foliage, and just now pauses,
a little drowsy with the heat, that the Bur-Marigold may be seen
dotting the lowland meadows and swamps with its brilliant flowers.
It is a plant of much beauty and interest, and will well repay a
close acquaintance. It is a stout herb, from one to three feet
high, with smooth, lanceolate, toothed, opposite leaves, bearing a
few large, showy flowers, as seen in the plate.
It belongs to a genus which has some fifty or more species
scattered over the tropical and temperate zones, some even being
found in the arctic regions. It is a member of that largest order
of flowering plants known as the Composite, plants which have
a large number of flowers crowded together in a common recep-
tacle or head, like the Dahlia, Dandelion, Marigold, etc. In the
other plants each fertile flower produces a seed-vessel containing
from a few to a very great number of seeds. In this order there
is but one seed to each flower, and no proper seed-vessel at all.
In the Composite the individual flowers are necessarily very
small, being packed together so closely in the head. But they
usually contain nil the parts of the true flower. The corolla is
contracted into a narrow tube toothed at the top, the stamens
adhering together by their anthers from another tube inside of
this. The pistil, forked at top, pushes up through the inner
tube of anthers, and, having its stigmatic surface covered with
teeth-like processes, combs off much of the pollen and so is sure
to be fertilized.
The calyx does not usually develop till after the rest of the
THE BUR-MARIGOLD. IO9
flower has withered and fallen away, when it takes its chance for
development, and grows into bristles, hairs, scales, awns, teeth, etc.,
upon the top of the seed. The thistle-down is a good example of
this ; likewise, the two barbed teeth which crown the top of the
flat seeds in our present plant. The curious and interesting
arrangement of these seeds in the head, I may have occasion to
speak of in another place.
The great family of the Composite flowers, which numbers about
12,000 species, or one-tenth of all flowering plants, is divided into
three groups, according as each separate flower in the head has a
strap-shaped floral appendage, as in the dandelion, or these floral
parts occur only around the margin of the head, like rays, as in the
Marigold and Sunflower, or are absent altogether, as in the This-
tle. These groups are still farther divided and subdivided on other
points of difference. The plants of this great order are mostly
characterized by an acrid or stringent juice, which makes many of
them serviceable in medicine, while some are very poisonous.
The scientific name of the genus Bidens, means two teeth, and
is given in recognition of the two awns before referred to, with
which the seeds are provided. These barbed teeth serve an
excellent purpose, as minute grappling-hooks to attach the seeds to
the fleece or hair of animals, the plumage of birds, and the clothing
of men, thereby widely distributing them from the neighborhood
of the mother plant.
In the usage of sentiment Mr. Hulme says, "The Pansy and
Marigold are associated together as emblems of sorrow, and cards
having wreaths of these two flowers painted on them and such
mottoes as, 'May you ever escape them/ 'May they be far re-
moved from thee,' are presented to each other by friends as an
I IO FLOWERS OF THE FIELD AND FOREST,
offering and expression of kindly feeling. The French word for
the Marigold and for care and anxiety is the same, soitci, and the
flower is dedicated to the Virgin Mary, Mater dolorosa. It would,
however, appear to have been originally but an undesigned corrup-
tion, or else play upon words, its old name being soucicle, a word
derived from the Latin so/is cyclus, the circle of the sun, either
on account of the brilliant yellow disk and rays of the flower,
not unlike the heraldic representation of the sun, or the habit of
the flowers turning with the sun toward the light — two theories
for the origin of a name that would equally well suit the Sun-
flower of our gardens, a flower that Gerarde, writing in 1596, calls
the ' Flower of the Sunne, or Marigold of Peru/ The English
name, when analyzed, means literally the ' golden flower of Mary/
and points to a time when the monks held sway both in religious
thought and botanical nomenclature, and not unfrequently tried
to combine the two/'
The garden Marigold is reckoned a good barometer, having the
habit of closing up its petals at the approach of rain. Whether
our present plant does this I cannot say. But many flowers cer-
tainly do, or at least they shut up upon the obscuration of the sun.
Whether they think the clouding in of that luminary is premon-
itory of rain I know not. But I have seen a field brilliant with the
blossoms of the Dandelion, almost literally a "cloth of gold "
shining in the morning sun, and in an hour not a single trace of a
flower could be seen anywhere. The sun had gone into retirement
behind thick clouds, and the Dandelions had every one folded up
their yellow rays and wrapped their green mantle around them, and
gone to sleep, indistinguishable in the universal green of the
THE BUR-MARIGOLD. I 1 1
Into the story of this sun-loving and sun-worshipping flower I
must be permitted to frame Emerson's picture of the poet natu-
ralist, Thoreau :
And such I knew, a forest seer,
A minstrel of the natural year,
Foreteller of the vernal ides,
A lover true who knew by heart
Each joy the mountain dales impart;
It seemed that Nature could not raise
A plant in any secret place,
In quaking bog, on snowy hill,
Beneath the grass that shades the rill,
Under the snow, between the rocks,
In damp fields known to bird and fox,
But he would come in the very hour
It opened in its virgin bower,
As if a sunbeam showed the place,
And tell its long-descended race.
It seemed as if the breezes brought him;
It seemed as if the sparrows taught him;
As if by secret sight he knew
Where in far fields the orchis grew.
Many haps fall in the field
Seldom seen by wishful eyes,
But all her shows did Nature yield,
To please and win this pilgrim wise.
He trod the unplanted forest floor, whereon
The alluring sun for ages hath not shone; .
He saw beneath dim aisles, in odorous beds,
The slight Linnsea hang its twin-born heads,
And blessed the monument of the man of flowers,
Which breathes his sweet fame through the northern bowers.
112 FLOWERS OF THE FIELD AND FOREST.
He found the tawny thrush's broods:
And the shy hawk did wait for him;
What others did at distance hear,
And guessed within the thicket's gloom,
Was showed to this philosopher,
And at his bidding seemed to come.
THE CLIMBING HEMP-WEED.
MIKANIA SCANDENS JViM.
I come from haunts of coot and hern,
I make a sudden sally,
And sparkle out among the fern,
To bicker down a valley.
I chatter over stony ways,
In little sharps and trebles,
I bubble into eddying bays,
And babble on the pebbles.
I chatter, chatter, as I flow
To join the brimming river,
For men may come and men may go
But I go on forever.
I wind about, and in and out,
With here a blossom sailing,
And here and there a lusty trout,
And here and there a grayling;
And draw them all along, and flow
To join the brimming river,
For men may come and men may go,
But I go on forever.
1 iS FLOWERS OF THE FIELD AND FOREST.
In the sound of babbling brooks and singing birds, our
graceful climber lives out the shining months of its summer
life. It makes its home upon the shady banks and interlacing
with the limbs of overarching trees, it curtains the bed of the
sleepless streamlet with its festoons of leaves and clustering
flowers. In such situations it may be looked for anywhere in the
United States east of the Mississippi. The genus, which was named
for Professor Joseph Mikan, of Prague, includes some sixty species
found mostly in the warmer parts of America, Asia, and Africa.
It belongs to the order Composite, described in the last paper,
though the heads of white and pink blossoms are unusually small,
containing but four flowerets each. Several of these small heads
are gathered into the flower-clusters represented in the plate. The
fact that this vine belongs to the same order with the Thistle
and Dandelion indicates the remarkable variety in the form and
habit of plants so closely related in their flowering as are the
members of this order. For we find in it not only such plants
as the Marigold and Aster, and this vine, but many woody shrubs
and several forest trees.
The blossoms of the Hemp-Weed open in midsummer and
form a fine contrast with the bright-green, strongly-veined leaves.
I doubt not the foliage with its graceful outline and rich color
will form as attractive a part of the picture both in the book
and in nature, as the flowers themselves. Indeed, I think we
only need to have our attention called to the matter, to find more
and more that is peculiarly attractive and charming in the foliage
of plants. I can conceive of nothing in the plant world more
admirable than some Horse-Chestnut trees which I have seen,
the memory of which as a picture of great pleasantness will always
THE CLIMBING HEMP-WEED.
remain with me. To be sure, they had the grace of a well-
rounded form, bounded by lines of beauty on every side. But
their foliage was their glory, a solid mass of it, every leaf and
leaflet perfect, and perfectly arranged and displayed, the terminal
ones overlying each other from the bottom to the top of the tree
like the feathers upon the breast of a bird. They were indeed
master-pieces of Nature's art ; pictures of the most exquisite beauty
painted in one pigment. How simple are natures methods, but
how manifold the results.
In a former paper in this book I have recommended making
collections of leaves of plants for studies of artistic forms. Since
writing that paper I have chanced upon the same suggestion by
Starr King in his "White Hills." I am only too glad to be con-
vinced by eloquence so fine that my hint had not even the
merit of novelty. The idea is all the more valuable to me, now
that I find it commended by a lover of nature, whose fine sense
of her various and matchless beauties is only equalled by the
incomparable skill with which he makes them live and shine in
his glowing words. He says:
"While we are shut in by the forest, we may turn our atten-
tion to the symmetry and variety of the leaves, and try to learn
something of Nature's wealth of resources as to graceful form,
within narrow boundaries. An eye that is sensitive to the grace
of curves and parabolas and oval swells will marvel at the feast
which a day's walk in the woods will supply from the trees, the
grasses, and the weeds, in the varying outlines, the notchings,
veinings, and edgings of the leaves. They stand for the art of
sculpture in Botany, representing the intellectual delight of Nature
in form, as the flowers express the companion art of painting.
120 FLOWERS OF THE FIELD AND FOREST.
Leaves are the Greek, flowers the Italian phase of the spirit of
beauty that reveals itself through the Flora of the globe.
"An exhaustive collection of leaves would form one of the
most attractive museums that could be gathered. It would be
a privilege that could not but unseal in some measure the dullest
eye, to look in one day over the whole scale of Nature's foliage-art,
from the feathery spray of the moss, to the tough texture of the
Amazon lily's stem that will float a burden of a hundred weight;
from the bristles of the pine-tree to the Ceylon palm-leaf* that will
shelter a family with its shade.
"Would it not astonish us with something like reverent .ad-
miration, if we could sweep the gradation of Nature's green as it is
distilled from arctic and temperate and tropic light, and varied by
some shade on every leaf that grows; if we could scan all the
textures of the drapery woven out of salts and water in botanic
looms, from the softest silk of the corn to the broad tissues of the
banana's stock; if we could see displayed in wide masses all the
hues in which Autumn dyes the leaves of our own forests, as
though every square mile had been drenched in the aerial juices of
a gorgeous sunset ? And then when we should see how the general
geometry of the verdure is broken into countless patterns, we
should find our museum of leaves as engaging a school for the
education of the intellect as a collection of all vertebras, or a rep-
resentative conservatory of the globe.
"A careful and eloquent observer of Nature describes the leaf
as the sudden expansion of the stem that bore it; an uncontrollable
expression of delight, on the part of the twig that Spring has
come, shown in a fountain-like expatiation of its tender green heart
into the air. And to hold this joy, Nature moulds the leaves as
THE CLIMBING HEMP-WEED. 121
vases into the most diverse and fantastic shapes, — of eggs, and
hearts, and circles, of lances, and wedges, and arrows, and shields.
She cleaves and parts and notches them in the most cunning ways,
combines their blades into the most subtle and complicated vari-
eties, and scallops their edges and points into patterns that involve,
seemingly, every possible angle and every line of grace."
The grace of this airy vine and the delicious summer rest and
the peaceful calm of the blue air which it calls to mind, brings
with it the memory of Lowell's lines :
This willow is as old to me as life;
And under it full often have I stretched,
Feeling the warm earth like a thing alive,
And gathering virtue in at every pore,
Till it possessed me wholly and thought ceased,
Or was transfused in something to which thought
Is coarse and dull of sense. Myself was lost,
Gone from me like an ache, and what remained
Became a part of the universal joy.
My soul went forth, and, mingling with the tree,
Danced in the leaves; or floating in the cloud,
Saw its white double in the stream below;
Or else sublimed to purer ecstas) 7 ,
Dilated in the broad blue over all.
I was the wind that dappled the lush grass,
The thin-winged swallow skating on the air;
The life that gladdened everything was mine.
Was I thus truly all that I beheld?
Or is this stream of being but a glass
Where the mind sees its visionary self,
As, when the kingfisher flits o'er his bay,
Across the river's hollow heaven below
His picture flits; — another, yet the same?
THE WHITE BAY.
The Wh ite Bay.
Oh, ye who love to overhang the springs,
And stand by living waters, ye whose boughs
Make beautiful the rocks o'er which they play,
Who pile with foliage the great hills, and rear
A paradise upon the lonely plain,
Trees of the forest and the open field!
Have ye no sense of being? Does the air.
The pure air, which I breathe with gladness, pass
In gushes o'er your delicate lungs, your leaves,
All unenjoyed? When on your winter's sleep
The sun shines warm, have ye no dreams of spring?
And when the glorious spring-time conies at last,
Have ye no joy of all your bursting buds,
And fragrant blooms, and melody of birds,
To which your young leaves shiver? Do ye strive
And wrestle with the winds, yet know it not?
Feci ye no glory in your strength when he,
The exhausted Blusterer, flies beyond the hills
And leaves you stronger yet?
Nay, doubt we not that under the rough rind,
In the green veins of these fair growths of earth,
There dwells a nature that receives delight
From all the gentle processes of life,
And shrinks from loss of being. Dim and faint
May be the sense of pleasure and of pain,
As in our dreams j but, haply, real still.
128 FLOWERS OF THE FIELD AND FOREST.
The only representative of our peculiarly rich Southern flora
which adorns our pages is the White Bay, represented so finely
in our plate. It is a large shrub, blooming resplendent in the
everglades of Florida and the rich semi-tropical forests of Georgia.
Mr. Sprague has reproduced the beauty and elegance of the
flower so faithfully that I need not attempt a further description
of it in words.
The genus was named for Dr. Gordon, an old-time botanist
of Aberdeen, Scotland. It belongs to the order of the Camellias,
and is first cousin to the tea plant whose fragrant decoction daily
"cheers but does not inebriate " the whole civilized world.
If my readers will look with a little care at the leaves on
the plant, as the artist has pictured them, they will see that they
are not arranged one directly above the other, nor one opposite
the other, but, in what appears at first sight, a disorderly fashion
about the stem. It will be worth while, I trust, to look a little
into what is suggested by this fact, and see if there be a law
or system in the arrangement of the leaves of plants. This
matter has been the subject of no little study on the part of
botanists and other scientific people, and here, as elsewhere in na-
ture it has been found that the rule is not accident or chaos, but
law and order.
" All nature is but art unknown to thee,
All chance, direction which thou canst not see,
All discord, harmony not understood/'
But we are learning to know nature s art, and to understand
the deeper harmonies hidden in her apparent discords.
Dr. Gray says the leaves are symmetrically arranged upon the
stem, and that their position determines that of the buds and
THE WHITE BAY. 1 29
branches. "A plant no less than an animal is symmetrical. Leaves
are either single, or else there is a pair or more than a pair
upon each joint. When a pair only, they stand always upon ex-
actly opposite sides of the stem ; when three, four, or any other
number, they divide the circumference of the stern equally, that
is, they stand as far apart from each other as possible in the
circle. A circle of three or more leaves is called a whorl. The
pairs or whorls of leaves follow each other in a fixed order;
each pair stands over the intervals of the pair next below, and
the leaves of the whorl of three or other number correspond to
the intervals of those next below and above.
" In the alternate arrangement, that is when bud and leaf is
produced upon each joint, the single leaves succeed each other
in a definite order maintaining a complete symmetry. Each leaf
projects from the stem at a fixed angle with that which precedes
it, which is uniform for the species, but is different in the dif-
ferent species. In the simplest case the second leaf is on exactly
the opposite side of the stem from the first, of course higher
up ; the third leaf on the opposite side from the second, and
therefore vertically over the first. So the leaves are in two verti-
cal ranks; the angular divergence, that is, the angle which suc-
cessive leaves make is one half the circumference of the stem.
"Other plants have the angular divergence one-third, that is, the
second leaf is placed one-third round the stem ; the third is one-
third round from that, and the fourth of course comes directly
over the first, the fifth over the second, and so on, the leaves
being hence disposed in three vertical ranks." Alders and sedges
form an example of this. "A line traced on the stem through
the place of attachment of the successive leaves forms a spiral :
I3O FLOWERS OF THE FIELD AND FOREST.
each turn from one leaf round to the one directly over it is called
a cycle. Alternate leaves are never in four ranks, but they are very
commonly — most commonly — in five. In that case the angular
divergence or portion of the circle between two successive leaves
is two-fifths of the circumference, and the spiral line ascends
through two whole turns round the stem before it touches a leaf
exactly over the one at the point of starting, and that is the sixth
leaf in the series. These several modes of arrangement may be
designated by the fractions i, i, ?, which measure the angle of
divergence of the successive leaves in the spiral. The denomi-
nators likewise express the number of vertical ranks, and the
numerators the number of turns round the stem which the spiral
makes in completing the cycle." But leaves are arranged in 8
vertical ranks, and in 13, and 21, and 34, and even a greater
number. In such cases the spiral makes respectively 3, 5, 8 and
13 turns in completing the cycle.
It will be found that these fractions form a series, i, i, f, f, T 8 ff
T Vi H> etc., each numerator from the third being formed by adding
together the two preceding numerators, and the denominators are
formed in the same way. The subject comes therefore within
the field of mathematics, and has furnished matter for much in-
teresting mathematical discussion. Among other points deduced
from the mathematical treatment of the question is this, that
however high the series runs, and it is quite complex in some de-
velopments of it, as in the pine cone and the arrangement of
seeds in the heads of composite flowers, no successive leaves are
ever more than one-half the circumference apart or ever less than
Prof. Benjamin Peirce pointed out that there was also a
THE WHITE BAY. 13I
correspondence between this law of position of the leaves and
other parts of plants on the stem, and the law of the motion of
the planets about the sun, so that if the time of the revolution of
any planet be divided by the time of the planet next outside it,
the quotient would be one of the fractions which express the
position of the leaves, nearly, as given above.
If we inquire the reason for such an arrangement of the leaves
as here set forth, we are told that we shall find at least one reason
in the fact that by placing the leaves in these positions they are
thus best arranged to receive light, the force by which they per-
form their double function of lungs and stomach; that when so
placed the leaves above cut off less of the light from those below
than by any other arrangement. There is also another reason
suggested in the fact that this arrangement gives symmetry and
beauty to the plants not otherwise attainable. But I suppose we
may look for other reasons and more profound, for building
plants and planets on this one plan, in the mind of Him who
is the Architect of both.
This law of the position of the leaves of plants was first
noticed about a century ago by Bonnet, a French botanist, who
wound a thread about a twig of plum or peach, touching the
points of attachment of the successive leaves. He observed the
resulting spiral, and the fact that the successive leaves made a
uniform angle with each other about the stem. Other botanists
made the observation with respect to a large number of plants
and noted the various applications of the law in the different
species and the different parts of the plant, as in the leaf-buds,
flower-buds, petals, sepals, seeds, etc. But it was left to our great
mathematician Prof. Peirce, in 1849, *° announce the mathemati-
132 FLOWERS OF THE FIELD AND FOREST.
cal law by which all these observations are to be explained
and classified, — the law of extreme and mean ratio, as it is
called ; that is, the dividing a thing into two parts, in such a
way that the smaller part shall be to the larger as the larger is
to the whole.
In dismissing our lovely flower and the lesson of celestial
mechanics to which it has led us, we will pause a moment to
catch the song of another poet who has heard the voice of the
Pine in the distance,
Patient through sun and rain,
Meeting with graeeful persistence,
The north wind's wrench and strain,
No memory of past existence
Brings thee pain;
Right for the zenith heading.
Friendly with heat and eold,
Thine "arms to the infinite spreading
Of the heavens, just from of old,
Thou only aspirest the more,
Unregretful the old leaves shedding
That fringed thee with music before,
And deeper thy roots embedding
In the graee and the beauty of yore;
Thou sighest not " Alas, I am older,
The green of last summer is sear!"
But loftier, hopefuller, bolder,
Wins broader horizons each year.
LOBELIA CARDINALIS L.
Then think I of deep shadows on the grass, —
Of meadows where in sun the cattle graze,
Where, as the breezes pass,
The gleaming rushes lean a thousand ways, —
Of leaves that slumber in a cloudy mass,
Or whiten in the wind, — of waters blue
That from the distance sparkle through
Some woodland gap, — and of a sky above,
Where one white cloud like a stray lamb doth move.
My childhood's earliest thoughts are linked with thee;
The sight of thee calls back the robin's song,
Who, from the dark old tree
Beside the door sung clearly all day long,
And I, secure in childish piety,
Listened as if I heard an angel sing
With news from heaven, which he could bring
Fresh every day to my untainted ears,
When birds, and flowers, and I were happy peers.
We have before us one of our most brilliant wild-flowers.
Nature may almost defy art to reproduce the color with which
she dyes its flaming petals. Nothing comparable to it is seen
I38 FLOWERS OF THE FIELD AND FOREST.
in our native floral domain, and nature does not repeat it in
even the brilliant colors of the autumn woods. As splendid and
as characteristic as this color is in the Cardinal-flower, it is said to
be not quite constant, but occasionally "sports" pink, white, and
It is very common in New England, and is indeed distrib-
uted throughout the country east of the Rocky Mountains. It
always grows on low ground in marshes and by the side of
water-courses. It lines the banks of Taunton Great-River for
long distances, standing up to its middle in water at high tide,
and bending low and swaying heavily as the whelming waves
go over its head from the puffing, hurrying little steamers pass-
The splendid display and contrast of colors which a mass of
these flowers make by the side of a clear stream is very striking.
The green leaves of the trees are massed behind and above, the
grass below, and in the midst this blood-red flower, like tongues
of flame, reaching up, the blue sky overhead, and all repeated in
the glassy water beneath, make a picture not to be forgotten.
The lines of Dr. Holmes give us a poetical interpretation of
some such scene.
The Cardinal, and the blood-red spots,
Its double in the stream;
As if some wounded eagle's breast,
Slow throbbing o'er the plain,
Had left its airy path impressed
In drops of scarlet rain.
The Cardinal-flower grows from two to five feet high, and
remains in bloom from July to October, thus both by its size
THE CARDINAL-FLOWER. 1 39
and season of flowering, contributing its full share to the beauty
of our summer and autumn landscape. It comes in with the
heat, and goes out with the frost.
It is said to be easy of cultivation in gardens where moist places
may be found into which to transplant it. It seems to be capa-
ble of crossing in a wild state with a large blue-flowered species
of the Lobelia, common in our woods. Examples of hybrids pro-
duced in nature which show marked characteristics of both species
are not unknown. Whether the hybrids propagate any other way
than by shoots I know not.
The genus Lobelia comprises some two hundred species scat-
tered over the world, about twenty of which are natives of this
country, though strange to say none have ever yet been found on
the Pacific coast. Botanically considered, the genus is related
to such compositae as the Asters on the one side and to the
Campanulas or Bell-flowers on the other. A comparison of the
parts, as for example, of the pistil and stamens with those of the
Aster, and the corolla with that of the Bell-flower, would make
the relationship apparent to any observer.
Botanists have noticed that many species of Lobelia are fertilized
by help of insects, as I have had occasion to show is true of
several other flowers, whose natural history has been given in this
book and in " Beautiful Wild Flowers." But in the Cardinal-
flower we have an example of a plant depending upon birds for
help in the act of pollenization. As will easily be seen by an
inspection of the flower or of the plate, the anthers and partly
the filaments of the stamens are glued together at their sides
forming a close tube. The pollen is produced on the inside of
this and discharged from the open bearded mouth at the end.
I4O FLOWERS OF THE FIELD AND FOREST.
Now the pistil grows up through this narrow tube, and
at last protrudes beyond it. At first glance it would seem im-
possible that the flower should not be self-fertilized. But by
looking closer it will be found that the pollen all ripens and
falls out of the anther before the pistil grows up to the end of
the tube where the pollen is produced. Moreover, the stigmatic
surface is on the inside of the two lobes which are made by
splitting the end of the pistil down. As the pistil pushes up
through the tube, by the anthers, these surfaces are shut close
together, face to face, so that the pollen could not possibly reach
them. These lobes open and expose their stigmatic surface
only when they have protruded quite beyond the end of the
pollen-bearing anther tube.
The plate shows not only the position of this organ, but
also in the newer flowers at the top the anther tube with no
pistil, and, lower down, flowers where the pistil has completed its
growth and expanded its yellow-lobed stigma ready for polleniza-
tion. Now it is evident that any particular flower must be
fertilized by pollen from a flower younger than itself. Associated
with this arrangement of parts of which I have spoken are
adaptations for securing help in transferring the pollen from the
younger to the older flowers, such as a supply of nectar secreted
at the bottom of the tubular corolla, and advertised by the bril-
liant color of the flower. As has been shown by Mr. Darwin,
Prof. J. E. Todd and others, in the case of other species of
Lobelia, bees visit the flowers in search of the nectar, and getting
their backs dusted with pollen from the end of the anther-tube
which arches out over them, carry it to older flowers where the
pistil is ready to receive it.
THE CARDINAL-FLOWER. 141
According to Prof. Goodale, however, " the Cardinal-flower has
so long and narrow a corolla-tube that bees arc unable to reach
its nectar, which is, moreover, so watery that they do not in this
case resort to their frequent expedient of biting through the corolla
to get at it. They are replaced by our beautiful ruby-throated
humming-bird, which may be seen when the plants are plentiful,
gracefully posing itself before one flower after another, while its
tongue deftly explores them and removes their sugared stores ;
but in doing this the bird is continually receiving pollen from
the anthers of young flowers and leaving it on the expanded
stigmas of those which are older. This is one of the very few
cases in which our native flowers are adapted to fertilization by
humming-birds; but in tropical America, where these birds are
abundant, many flowers are exclusively cross-fertilized by them.
Such flowers are sometimes spoken of as ornithophilous, or bird-
For most of the following facts concerning the origin of the
popular and scientific names of the Cardinal-flower and its history,
I am indebted to Prof. Meehan's " Native Flowers and Ferns of
the United States." The generic name was given to it more than
a century and a half ago by Plumier, who was an ingenious
Frenchman, noted for his discoveries among American plants, in
honor of Mathias de l'Obel, a famous Flemish botanist of the
sixteenth century. Lobel, according to all accounts, was a remark-
able man. He was born in Lisle, Flanders, in 1538, and died in
London in 1616; was graduated in medicine in Montpelier, prac-
tised at Antwerp, became physician to the Prince of Orange, settled
in England about 1570, though it appears that he had lived there
for a time during early life, and served as gardener to the Earl of
I42 FLOWERS OF THE FIELD AND FOREST.
Zouch, at Hackney, near London. He was subsequently appointed
botanist and physician to King James the First. He was the
author of several voluminous works on botany, all of which were
profusely illustrated. He projected a vast botanical cyclopaedia
and prepared a portion of it, which was edited and published half
a century after his death by Parkinson. It is said that the idea
of natural families among plants may be found in Lobel's works.
"The illustrations of Lobel's works can scarcely be recognized
now as belonging to the plants for which they were intended."
And, in the light of this fact, "it is amusing," says Prof. Meehan,
"to find Lobel complaining that the cuts illustrating the work of
his predecessor, Mathiolus, are so unlike nature, that he thinks
this early author must have drawn his pictures in many cases
from his imagination."
One may judge of the estimation in which he and his works
were held by later botanists, by the fact that it was nearly a
century after his death that Plumier named for him this im-
portant and interesting genus of plants. We first hear of the
Cardinal-flower in Parkinson's " Herbel," published in England
about 1630. He says that he had the root of the plant from
France, it having been sent over from the New World by the
French who had settled in Canada. It is therefore probable
that our Cardinal-flower was among the earliest of our native
plants to be sent to the Old World, and to receive the admiring
attention of botanists there. It no doubt got its popular name
in France, as Parkinson seems to say, a name which we can
easily suppose was suggested by the resemblance of its brilliant
color to the scarlet hat and cassock of a cardinal of the Roman
Catholic Church. Parkinson calls it "a very brave" plant, referring,
THE CARDINAL-FLOWER. 1 43
of course, to its gaudy or showy dress of scarlet blossoms. And
Mrs. Sigourney shows her appreciation of its regal splendor and
dignity by picturing the
"Lobelia attired like a queen in her pride."
There are frequent references to this " flower of the scarlet hat "
in American poets, and always with recognition of its noble and
striking qualities. The floral emblematists have not been un-
mindful of its highborn name and nature and have dedicated
it to " Distinction." In " Berkshire Wild-flowers " Miss Dora
Read Goodale thus sweetly sings its praise :
To the westward burns the smouldering day,
Still and solemn in the sunset sky;
In the purple hollows far away
Shadowy veils of early evening lie,
And the misty mountain tops are gray.
In the stagnant pool, stirred by a breath,
All the shifting light and color lies,
In its shallows, dim with brooding death,
All the sweeping splendors of the skies
Glass themselves, and scatter light beneath.
Whence is yonder flower, so strangely bright?
Would the sunset's last reflected shine
Flame so red from that dead flush of light?
Dark with passion is its lifted line,
Hot, alive, amid the falling night.
Still it burns intenser as I gaze,
Till its heart-fire quickens with my own,
And when night shuts in the dusky ways
Red and strange shine out the lights of home,
Where my flower its parting sign delays.
SOLIDAGO C^ESIA L.
When the wayside tangles blaze,
In the low September sun,
When the flowers of summer days
Droop and wither, one by one,
Reaching up through bush and briar,
Sumptuous brow and heart of fire,
Flaunting high its wind-rocked plume,
Brave with wealth of native bloom, —
In the pasture's rude embrace,
All o'errun with tangled vines,
Where the thistle claims its place,
And the straggling hedge confines,
Bearing still its sweet impress
Of unfettered loveliness,
In the field and by the wall,
Binding, crowning, clasping all, —
"The eighty or more species of the genus Solidago" says
Prof. Goodale, " are nearly all North American. Like their near
of kin, the Asters, the Golden-Rod presents so many intermediate
and puzzling forms that the species are difficult to identify. The
I50 FLOWERS OF THE FIELD AND FOREST.
points upon which chief reliance is placed for their discrimina-
tion, are, for the most part, minute; such as the character of the
scales of the involucre, the shape and veining of the leaves, and
the relative length of the outer or ray flowers."
This species is common, growing in rich moist thickets and
woodlands, flowers from August to October, and is certainly one
of the prettiest of the genus. It is easily distinguished from
the two other common species, 5. bicolor and 5. latifolia, which
like this, bear their flowers in the axils of the leaves, by the
stem, which is round and smooth, while the stem of the first-
named is covered with grayish hairs, and that of the other is
Though there are upwards of fifty species of Golden-Rod in
this country alone, only one may be found native in all Europe,
the S. Virga-aurea, or the Golden-Rod Solidago of the old herb-
alists, a native also of our northern regions. All reference to the
Golden-Rod in English literature must be applied to that species.
This common name of the familiar home plant, which in the old
times was found in every cottage door-yard, —
" And golden-rods and tansy running high,
That o'er the pale-tops smiled on passers-by;
Flowers in my time which every one would praise.
Though thrown like weeds from gardens nowadays/' —
would naturally be brought by the English emigrants and applied
to the old favorites whose pleasant greetings in the forests of the
New World would remind them of the old home across the seas.
I learn from Prof. Meehan that the name of the genus Soli-
dago is usually referred to Linnaeus, though he credits it to
THE BLUE-STEMMED GOLDEN-ROD. 151
Vaillant, one of the great botanists of the generation which im-
mediately preceded his. It is said to have been derived from
so/idus,' a Latin word meaning to make whole or solid, and ori-
ginally given to the Virga-aurea y for its medicinal reputation.
Salmon, an herbalist of the beginning of the seventeenth century,
says ; " It is one of the most noble wound-herbs ; cures wounds
and ulcers." It appears, also, to have been famous as a dye.
Another old herbalist, Culpeper, says : "Venus rules this herb.
It is a balsamic, vulnerary herb, long famous against inward
hurts and bruises. No preparation is better than a tea of this
herb for this service, and the young leaves, green or dry, have
the most virtue." Though Linnaeus admits it into his "Materia
Medica," and though it was named from its medicinal virtue,
yet it is now wholly discarded from medicinal use. The name
of our species, cczsia, means bluish gray, and refers to the color
of the stalk.
The Golden-Rod is a principal element in every picture of an
American autumn. It is a chief floral ornament in our truly
splendid autumnal landscapes. It matches well with the gor-
geous hues which clothe our forests in that season of the year.
It is among the last of Nature's bright things to fade out into
the sad universal gray of the dead season.
u But on the hills the golden-rod and the aster in the wood,
And the yellow sunflower by the brook in autumn beauty stood,
Till fell the frost from the clear cold heaven, as falls the plague on men,
And the brightness of their smile was gone from upland, glade, and glen."
With flowers as with men, "the time to die" comes at last
to all. But the Golden-Rod and the Aster are the crown and
152 FLOWERS OP THE FIELD AND FOREST.
the glory of the season's old age. They wait upon his slow,
lingering footsteps in the lengthening shadows, and most glo-
riously strew his pathway with the brightest floral gems of
earth. The poet makes old Autumn sad that he must part with
so much that is beautiful.
14 There comes, from yonder height,
A soft repining sound,
Where forest-leaves are bright,
And fall like flakes of light,
To the ground.
It is the Autumn breeze,
That, lightly floating on,
Just skims the reedy leas,
Just stirs the glowing trees,
And is gone.
He moans by sedgy brook,
And visits with a sigh,
The last pale flowers that look,
From out their sunny nook
At the sky."
But it seems to me he ought rather to be glad that the flowers
so fill the earth and stay so long, that they bravely face cold,
and winds, and sleet, that they may stay to cheer the world
with their presence, and that they blossom even by his new
made grave, till the wintry winding-sheet of snow covers all.
Do not these beautiful creatures of the sun teach us to look on
the sunny side of things, on the sunny side even of autumn
and of Death? But there are a thousand pleasant scenes of
autumn time with which the Golden-Rod is most closely asso-
THE BLUE-STEMMED GOLDEN-ROD. 1 53
dated. The full maturing of Nature's yearly cycle of life, the
shortening days, the yellow light, the blue haze in all the air,
as though the sky had fallen down close upon the ground, the
shorn meadows, the golden harvests of grain, the ripened fruit
loading the bending trees, or heaped in dazzling pyramids of color
upon the green turf beneath, the leaves of the forest falling one
by one silently through the still sunny air till they cover the
earth as with sunset clouds, — how are such scenes as these
conjured up by the waving of this golden-tipped wand!
The Golden-Rod comes at the end of Nature's floral season.
So should it fitly come at the end of our floral book, and I
know of none who has more lovingly sung its praises than the
author whose lines shall make my good-by to my readers and
the Golden-Rod together.
This flower is fuller of the sun
Than any our pale North can show;
It has the heart of August won,
And scatters wide the warmth and glow
Kindled at summer's mid-noon blaze,
Where gentians of September bloom
Along October's leaf-strewn ways,
And through November's paths of gloom.
Herald of Autumn's reign, it sets
Gay bonfires blazing round the fields:
Rich Autumn pays in gold his debts
For tenancy that summer yields.
Beauty's slow harvest now comes in;
New promise with fulfilment won:
The heart's vast hope does but begin,
Filled with ripe seeds of sweetness gone.
154 FLOWERS OF THE FIELD AND FOREST.
Because its myriad glimmering plumes
Like a great army's stir and wave;
Because its gold in billows blooms,
The poor man's barren walks to lave;
Because its sun-shaped blossoms show
How souls receive the light of God,
And unto earth give back that glow —
I thank Him for the Golden-Rod.
Wc - sM
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